Holidays and Occasions, The World We Live In

I’m Feeling ‘22

Here we are— another New Year’s Eve. It feels like I just sat down to reflect on the year that was 2020.

After a year that was long and hard, 2021 seemed to move at a faster pace. The world began to reopen. Life began to resume. Things felt more like, dare I say, normal, even if they weren’t.

We laughed. We played. We traveled. We welcomed new ones, welcomed back loved ones, and mourned as a others were welcomed to their eternal home.

The wheel of life kept rolling on.

The children grew in ways I did and didn’t see coming. They found new passions in things they learned and things they did. They climbed mountains and conquered challenges. They made new friends, tried new things, and throughout it all they maintained their spirits and their laughter sustained me.

My husband and I celebrated 14 years together in this adventure we call life. We continue to laugh and love and hold on to each other. Life is less scary when because I’ve got someone by my side who sees the real me and is still willing to hold my hand.

I took the lessons of 2020 and focused in 2021 on who and what is important to me.

There is only so much time in this life and I choose to spend mine in ways that matter to me.

I volunteered where I felt called.

I learned to say no and do so without guilt.

I made new friends and grew older with the old.

I shared— my heart, my feelings, my ideas, my words.

I learned it is okay to walk away from relationships or commitments that no longer grow me in positive ways.

I don’t know what it is about New Year’s Eve, but it makes us feel like there is a fresh start ahead.

In reality, aside from the calendar changing, not much else does. Yet every year this night comes with a promise of hope and feeling that a blank slate is stretched out in front of all of us.

The world begins again tonight and anything, yes, anything is possible.

I hope the year ahead brings more joy and less tears.

I hope the hard lessons of the past two years never leave us, but grow us and continue to remind us what is precious.

I hope we all never stop learning, loving, and laughing our way through our days.

I hope that somewhere in this year ahead, we all find or do or make something that brings us joy.

I hope that we are all here this time next year to reflect on the year that was.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling ‘22.

Holidays and Occasions

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

I grew up with a large extended family. My dad is one of six kids and each of those kids went forth and multiplied. I have first cousins that range from their 50s down to age 18. As we all grew up, we added spouses and kids. The next generation runs from their 20s down to little babies.

It was a great big, loud family.

My grandparents were our glue. My grandmother truly was the heart and soul of the family and their home was the epicenter for it all.

We gathered there for all the occasions– holidays, births, deaths, just because. We spent many a summer day crowded around the swimming pool playing Marco Polo and having diving board competitions. New Year’s Eves were spent with the kids hanging out in the basement and the parents camped out in the living room.

It was an amazing way to grow up. There was always a bevy of built in playmates.

And Christmas.

Christmas was by far my favorite.

It was the holiday that everyone came home. As my cousins grew and scattered, I could almost always count on seeing them all on Christmas Day.

We packed a 1200 Sq ft house full. We had the world’s fastest gift exchange passing presents quickly through the linked rooms. With as many of us that there were, you found a spot, you sat, and you stayed. There was food and fellowship and so much laughter and love.

The day always went by too fast.

But, all good things must come to an end, I suppose.

When my grandfather passed away the cracks within the family became evident and went my grandmother passed, the glue was gone.

The little house on 121st Street was eventually sold. Life marched on and things have never been the same.

The whys, the how’s, and the details aren’t important and it’s really not my story to tell. Some have made peace with it and some have not and that’s okay.

It’s all just different now.

My children don’t know what one of those loud crazy Christmases of my younger days was really like as my oldest was only one when my grandma passed. They can’t even begin to imagine it.

My children also don’t know that big, extended family. I have relatives who have never met my children nor have they ever expressed desire to. That’s quite alright as along the way I’ve learned there is much more to family than DNA.

I have a cousin who appointed herself the keeper of the flame so to speak. Each year an invite comes to a Christmas gathering that I truly have no desire to be part of. I no longer choose to take seats at tables as a matter of obligation or to make forced conversation with someone who doesn’t care what I am doing on a random Tuesday in August let alone Christmas.

My personal feelings aside, my boys have Autism. They have different needs. They simply couldn’t tolerate a loud, unfamiliar, closed environment full of strangers. They come first.

I don’t know that everyone understands that, but I know I don’t care if they do or not.

More than that, we’ve created our own traditions.

My husband and I have begun building our traditions with our kids in our home. We follow our morning up with a fun, laid back Christmas gathering at my parents’ with my brothers. It’s the perfect way to spend our holiday.

I hope that someday my children and their children will continue in our traditions, but if they don’t, I hope they know that’s okay.

Circumstances change.

People change.

Relationships change.

Life changes.

And so, we pack our memories up and put them away in the knowledge that on cold winter days we can revisit those ghosts of Christmas past.

I’ll be home for Christmas– if only in my dreams…