Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

A month from today is Christmas. Are you ready for it? I’m not. I pride myself on being organized and yet every year, Christmas draws near and I realize I am nowhere near being ready. That’s really silly, given that the holiday comes every year on the same day. You’d think by my age, I’d stop being surprised by its imminent arrival.

I don’t think it’s a question of Christmas not being important to me. I know it is, but it’s the day itself, and its significance of it that matter to me—not all the hoopla we have, by secular tradition, attached to it.

There’s another factor, especially these last nine years that play into my resistance to all the lights and glitter of the season. When you’ve lost a child, even if that child was an adult when he died, it forever leaves a hole in your heart. It’s kind of difficult to fully get into the spirit of joy when a piece of you is forever in mourning.

Therapists will tell you that this is one of the most stressful times of the year for many people. The older we get, the more we celebrate our special holidays while thinking of those loved ones no longer with us. Yes, missing children and grandchildren is harder—we’re not truly meant to bury those younger than us by a generation or two. Most of us as we reach our middle years, or enter into our December years, miss our parents and some siblings as well. The Christmas season, when we were kids, was filled with joy and magic. As we age, I think we hunger for that sense of wonder again. We long for the days when life seemed only bright and beautiful, and when anything—anything at all—was possible.

We’d all like an escape, every now and then, from adulting.

A month away and I can’t tell you how, exactly, we’ll pass the day. Our surviving son and his family generally spend their Christmas with my daughter-in-law’s people. That’s fine, because as I have noted in the past, and find it to be more true than not, that sons do that very thing. That old saying that says a son’s a son till he takes a wife is based on truth, after all.

Because Christmas falls on a Friday this year, it’s a working day for my daughter. I don’t yet know if she’ll have a couple of hours late afternoon to stop in and eat. We’ll figure it all out. Too, there’s nothing wrong with just the two of us having our quiet Christmas dinner together. We get along pretty well, for a couple of older folks.

It all went by so fast! It seems like not that long ago I was a child, bubbling with excitement to see what Santa left under the tree. Then, just a few moments after that, I was a young mother, bubbling with excitement to see our little ones’ jubilee over what Santa left under the tree.

These days if I feel bubbling, I’m tempted to call the doctor.

Still, I must say that giving remains my favorite part of the secular holiday. I’ve been told on more than one occasion by more than one person that I am way too generous. I know that I am. My first instinct has always been to offer a hand up, to give to those who are in need as well as my loved ones, just to see them smile.

I make no apologies for that. For a lot of people, giving is the best part of Christmas. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.


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