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December 27, 2010

Christmas Past

by Heather

And now it’s Christmas Past!

The Christmas rush was on . . . how does it happen every year? It's not like I don't know that Christmas is coming. Maybe it's part of the total lack of organization that has sadly been part of me since birth. (Yes, trust me, I know I was a disorganized infant.) 4706508-lg

Maybe it's that in my mind--lacking drawers and file cabinets--everything must be done at the last minute. Or maybe I just didn't realize that if I moved the obvious dust, more bunnies would fly in from everywhere!

Perhaps it's because I'm blessed with a lot of people in my life. So that's something like fourteen stockings, secret Santa gifts, tons of stuff in the house before I start to clean it.

But I did try.

Somehow, I managed to wreck a good vacuum cleaner, so all the vacuuming went to naught. I really cleaned one room, only to pile it up with all the junk from the other rooms.

Housekeeping I realized dusting is a full time job.

Each year, I swear I will not be in a mall on Christmas Eve—each year, I am.

Time marches on, whether we’re ever “done” or ready for the future to become the present. And then, in the rush of it all, nothing done or not done, dust or piles of junk, mean anything at all.

Christmas 2010 has come and gone, and I’m sitting here this morning thinking of how precious life is; we had a wonderful time being together. Christmas Eve was with our extended family (in-law-in-laws) and Christmas day I cooked at my nephew’s house, my nephew did the clean up, the little ones ran around and got exhausted and looked adorable falling asleep on their parents. The family played games and laughed and ate, and I thought of how very lucky I was . . . and, of course, I missed the ones not with us anymore.

Especially my sister.

I was always the disorganized one. Vickie was always in control. She was a few years older, the one who teased me mercilessly, and championed me against any hurt in the world. She was domestically talented, and made pretty things—and remembered all cards and occasions and kept our little family in order.

She came from a long line of incredibly strong women. My great-grandmother, who came to America with her children and grandchildren. My Mom—who always reminded me of the knight in Monty Python. She was brilliant—and could open any jar in the kitchen. And no matter how many licks life gave her, “it was only a flesh wound.”

I’ve missed my dad for a very long time, my father-in-law, my step-father, mother-in-law . . . so many people I really loved.  I miss my brother-in-law—I’d known him since I was fifteen, always had a key to his house, and he was truly a “brother.”

I really had a wonderful Christmas. I’m so lucky. And so scared. I miss my sister terribly. I’m the disorganized disaster, and she made things right.

She was meant to be the grand Irish matriarch of our generation. And this morning, while I’m thinking about how grateful I truly am, I’m also feeling the pinch of nostalgia. And I try to remember that I’m lucky, too, in my memories. On special occasions that are wonderful and painful, we do remember the wonderful people who were part of our lives, and to miss them makes us human, far more than an opposable thumb.

Hm. All this must be because another year is about to end. I hope everyone out there had a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you the best in 2011!







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Heather, what a lovely blog.
It makes me happy that you were able to share the Christmas days with your loved ones.
Christmas is truly a time of reflection. We, indeed mourn the loss of loved ones. But as you said so beautifully, we are grateful for the memories that were given to us.
I escaped the "Holiday Mopes" this year. Thankfully, the everyday things continued to allow me to maintain my buoyancy. What else is there in life if you cannot be sustained by a continual current of love and awareness? People do this for me whether it is neighbors or cyberspace friends. I hope that you have a wonderful New Year, Heather.

Heather,you sound like the ultimate Irish matriarch to me!

Our daughter's wedding is New Year's Day. Keep a good thought for us, everyone!

I know your sister loved this blog, and so did I.

Merry Christmas!

That was beautiful, Heather. At our first Christmas with a grandbaby, I found myself missing my parents even more than usual. They would have been so excited to share the holiday with him; I can envision exactly how they would have looked playing with him, feeding him, and rocking him to sleep.

Nancy, I hope your daughter's wedding is joyous for all!

And (the) God(dess) bless us, every one.

Oh, Heather, this is so lovely. It was an odd Christmas for us, too, for a variety of reasons not much family was here, but we made it nice all the same, and part of what made it special was all the remembering of holidays past. Our memories really can keep us warm, can't they?

Nancy, sending good, happy thoughts to you all for a wonderful wedding this weekend. Hang in there!

I don't think it's Christmas without a big dose of nostalgia amid the madness. Heather, you may not be Miss Organized, but you're the glue that holds your huge family together, which is a lot more important. And by the way, I think they should give you a maid for Christmas.

Nancy, the countdown is getting very exciting! I can't wait for the post-wedding blog.

OH, yes, counting blessings. Perfect. xoxoxo

So beautifully expressed, Heather. Thanks so much.

Nancy, may it be perfect and joyous!

We've decided to keep the white lights on the fig tree all year round. They brighten and cheer the whole place. Maybe I'll even keep them on when the tree moves to the deck in the spring.

Although we don't have a very big family, I am gratefull that my parents made it another year. My dad is 85 and we can see the shrinking and the 'failing away' but he enjoys sitting and watching everyone have a good time. My mom will be 80 in 2011 and, if Dad doesn't kill her, lol, she should be ok. My family may be the one who puts the fun in dysfunctional, but we have a good time.

The wedding will be beautiful, Nancy. Try to relax and enjoy the day.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Heather, I'm so glad you were surrounded with loved ones and memories of loved ones. It was my first Christmas without my grandmother. My aunt wrapped up a small tube of the lotion my grandmother used. When I unwrapped it and smelled the lotion, I was filled with sweet memories.

What a wonderful blog, Heather. We had a nice Christmas here, even though my husband's mom died just before Thanksgiving. She was missed, but we laughed, oohed and aahed over the gifts and enjoyed being together as a family.

I moved away from home @30 years ago, and when I first got married (now 22 years) to a widower with a child, we decided to stay here in the DC area for Christmas. Each year I would hear about the fun my sisters and their families were having at my mother's house and be a little sad I wasn't with them. Then one Christmas almost ten years ago, my husband, stepdaughter, son and I were able to be in my hometown and share in the fun. But it didn't seem like Christmas for us there. My mom and dad had died several years before, and my sisters had started their own family traditions. After that visit, I focused on my DC fun and my nuclear family's always changing "traditions", and happily caught up with my sisters by phone. I miss being with my sisters, their families, and especially my mom and dad at this time of year, but I love making new memories with my own little family too.

What a lovely poignant post, Elaine. I had a friend who said that Christmas was always a bag of mixed feelings-the joy of the moment, particularly the children, and the nostalgia and sadness for those no longer there. Nancy, I'm sure this week will feel too short, but that everything will be beautiful, and just as it should be. I have my fingers crossed for you and your daughter.
Happy New Year.

Nancy M, good luck with all the final arrangements for your daughter's wedding, and I hope all of you will have wonderful memories about the wedding to share from year to year.

Nancy M, add my good wishes with everyone else's for a smooth-running, joyous wedding and New Year's celebration.

Under our tree this year was a wrapped gift with no name. I gave it to my son to open and when he ripped the paper off he said awww and gave me a big smile. It was a box of chocolate covered cherries. Something one or the other of us bought for my mom every year. Every once in a while she ended up with one from all of us and had cherries coming out her ears. She's not physically here with us for the holidays anymore, but that little box of candy made sure she was there in all our hearts.
Little things like that make the holidays special and keep the one's that aren't here anymore close.

Heather, you capture all the emotions of a happy but sad holiday so well. I'm sorry your sister's gone, but it sure sounds like your Irish family is staying well-glued together, which is wonderful.
Nancy P., a few years ago I had hung the white holiday lights in the little nook over a window seat instead of outside, and they brightened up my living room so beautifully (I hadn't noticed before how dim that area was at night) that I left them up for months. I say, keep the fig tree lit with 'fairy lights' (which is what Christmas lights are in the off-season) all you like!
Nancy M., the wedding's going to be terrific. Just be ready for a nervous-making rehearsal!

KD, I gave my uncle a box of chocolate-covered cherries every year for about twenty years. After my aunt decided to break off from her sisters and their families some years ago, I've not had their address, so the cherries have gone un-sent. Sigh. So glad you honor your mom's memory in this sweet way.

My mom used to buy a box for my oldest brother every year, special just for him. I think I used to be a little jealous. Later I realized that I don't really like them so much; fudge is better. Cherry discussion has reminded me of the carol about Mary asking Joseph of cherries. Found it! "The Cherry Tree Carol" on Sheila Kay Adams CD _Christmas on the Mountain_.
Sympathies on the loss of your sister, and Laraine on the loss of your uncle through other means -- just as sad in its own way; why do families do that to each other? I miss my mom at holidays, too. I hope they celebrate well in heaven. I told Chaplain Kalen that I was pretty sure they serve her chocolate bourbon pecan pie there.

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