He’s done it again. Son #1 has altered my Christmas.
The first time he did this was twenty-three years ago when he arrived seven weeks early thanks to my preeclampsia and his wanting a Christmastime birth rather than Valentine’s Day. Even though that first Christmas was in NICU, we have spent each of his birthdays and every Christmas together since then. Academic calendars being what they are, the poor guy was even home for his 21st birthday.
Despite the life changes that I have created or endured, I have always imagined that all the boys would would want to be home for the holidays. Of course, intellectually I understand that this may not be the case. I can envision a future wherein they are all spending holidays with their own families or in far-flung corners of the world. That’s a path that I once trod, as well. I get it – in my brain. My heart whistles a different tune, though.
And this year – for the first time – the son that changed my world in 1992 has decided he would prefer to mark the holiday season and his birthday on his own. At first I was sad. Quite sad.
Of course, there are those who have different Christmases every year: traveling and adventuring; or, in the case of one woman I knew: every holiday season seemed to usher in a new round of stress and death in her family. However, I have found a kind of comfort in the traditions that the boys and I have created over the years. Perhaps the holidays with all of us at home served as a sort of anchor for the rest of the year, no matter what curve balls came along.
That Christmas in 1992 launched the ship that relied on my holiday anchor. Still life changes, and shifts are felt most acutely at the holidays. Babies are born; people die; students study abroad; neighbors move away; loved ones decide to stay home; sons forge their own paths – it’s all part and parcel of this world.
Looking into a future where Christmas includes only me and my dog is weird. Maybe I’ll sit home and eat chicken pot pie and watch bad TV and feel sorry for myself.
No, no, (I don’t even like pot pie!). I’ll find a Tuscan lodge and mark the holidays there. Or, I’ll work in an African orphanage over the New Year. Or, I’ll take the dog and visit children in the hospital. A Christmas in Wales appeals to me, as well. Or, I’ll show up unannounced at my sister’s house.
Changes are just that – changes. Some can be sad. If you have lost loved ones this year, my heart goes out to you. If you are struggling with illness, I send you light and health. If you’re just sad, I empathize. Changes can be good, too. Perhaps you have a new baby. Maybe you’ve moved to a great house. You’ve gotten engaged or landed your dream job. Regardless of what is happening around us, our joy depends only on us.
Candles can be lit. Prayers can be offered. Meals can be made. Toasts can be proclaimed. Greetings can be exchanged.
Life is a continuum of change; we must embrace it at all times – perhaps most especially at the holidays.