When I was growing up, Christmas was very traditional and comforting in the sameness of what we did each year. I remember playing a new game as a family on Christmas Eve, the candlelight service at church followed by spinach crepes for supper. Then on Christmas morning, the excitement sizzling in the air as Daddy snuck in to turn on the lights of the tree, and then the presents, and homemade orange rolls for breakfast. Grandparents and aunts and uncles came over for a big lunch, and the day was relaxed and happy.
As I got older, things changed a little. The games became jigsaw puzzles, and when I moved away, it was coming home to the lighted tree instead of waking up to it. Family became smaller, but still the traditions.
When Daddy passed away, Christmas became more emotional – there was a lot of remembering and trying new things that brought back fewer memories. Mama struggled most years to get through Christmas so life could get back to normal.
But this year has been different. For the first time in a long time, Christmas was really happy – for her and for me. We live in the same city now, so instead of a long trip home, it was just a jaunt across town with no traffic.
And we combined the old and the new. The meal was the same, but we don’t exchange gifts anymore (except a little “happy”) or have a tree. Then for the first time in too many years to remember – we worked a jigsaw puzzle Christmas afternoon. There was fussing that pieces got lost in the move because it was so difficult – but it was a great way to remember and visit and start something new.
And the best news of all is that both of us have kept the decorations up a while longer because this year, they make us happy.