Christmas, despite all my humbuggery, is my favorite time of the year. The Christmas trees, the decorations, music, and food all take part in creating one of the years hilights in my life. It’s not so much about the presents-not anymore-it’s about family and counting who’s still alive.
I’ve blogged about this before, but felt the need to repeat myself again as it’s what I’ve been thinking about these past few days. Growing up, Christmas was always an adventure in traveling. Whether it was over to Smithtown on Long Island to spend the day with Pat and Jack, or to New Jersey to visit one of my Uncles; or my grandmother before she became unable to live on her own. Every once in a blue moon we’d go to my Aunt Eileen’s and Uncle Frank’s, but since they had 9 kids between them from 2 marriages, they had enough to deal with, without even more mouths to feed. It was only when we moved to AZ (years after my Aunt Eileen made the move), that her home became Christmas central.
It was always about family. We’d sometimes make several different stops throughout the day. Pat and Jack’s my godparents, on the way to or from Jersey. It was always a long day, a long drive and tiring. My father would always complain about the driving and say “I’m not doing this next year!”
To which my Mom would respond, “Well I’m not cooking next year!”
“Fine, we’ll go to a restaurant.”
I thought about that, as I talked with my Mom about plans for Christmas this year. “Well, we’ll probably go to a restaurant this year. I can’t do it anymore (meaning the cooking).”
“What about David and Marybeth?” I ask, referring to my nephew and his fiance.
“I don’t know what they’re doing. I need to call them.” All that was earlier last week. I called her yesterday, and ask what the plans were, and she said, “Well I’ll be making baked ziti, David and Marybeth will be over.”
And it goes on….
This has been a stressful holiday though. with my impending layoff in January, the upcoming dental work and the money for that-a rent increase, it’s been a bit scrooge like. But, as I said it’s never been about the presents; it’s about the family, no matter how dysfunctional they may be. And as I get older, and watch family pass on year by year, those who are left standing mean more and more.
I miss those who have passed, or gone missing, and yet feel their presence this time of the year.
That’s present enough for me.