Wow!!! The aftermath of Christmas…..I love the holidays, and all the cozy, childlike traditions we embrace. The old decorations we hang on the tree from bygone years, that bring back memories, the trees we put in the same place and decorate in the same way. I love that my kids come home, though never for as long as I’d like (like forever….or what about a time machine to take us back to the years when they were tiny and we waited for Santa Claus to arrive, breathlessly!!! And I knew that they would be home for years and years, instead of all grown up, and only home now for days). Christmas brings back so many memories, many of them so tender, and others so bittersweet (like those that include my son Nick, who is no longer here). But even grown up Christmases, with adult kids, are fun. They’re just different than they used to be. Everything now is in High Definition, and rushes past at lightning speed. We wait for Christmas all year, and it’s over before you know it.
So now, the kids have left, save my college senior who still lives with me, in a separate apartment in the house, with an incredibly full and busy life. But mine is pretty busy too. The others have gone, their rooms are empty again, they left with their dogs, their gifts, and left a trail of small things behind. And for one precious week, when they’re here for Christmas, I can almost pretend that they are kids again, but not quite. We cooked dinners together, had lunch in the kitchen, and had breakfast together every day. Sheer heaven for me. I flew from Paris to be in San Francisco with them, and just missed the giant snowstorm that shut the Paris airport down (and airports all over Europe). I got out right before they closed the airport, and get out by the skin of my teeth every year, and made it home the day before the kids. They’re off to their own cities again, and after I organize things a little, I will be off to Europe again, to freezing weather and probably more snow. (And it’s cold in San Francisco too). Each of my kids came home with their dog, so the house was full of laughing, barking, and friends visiting. And the only thing we couldn’t fit in this year was baking brownies for our friends, there just wasn’t time. Next year.
There were some really fun times, family dinners, lots of cooking, and one night when we all cooked, and danced in the kitchen while we did. I love all the activity and chaos that goes with having a big family (if not, why have so many kids? I have always loved everything that goes with it, multiplied by nine). And dancing in the kitchen while cooking is fine with me, better than fine. In fact, it seems so deadly dull in the kitchen now without them, and all the music, dogs and noise. Big families are not for everyone, but they suit me just fine!!! The kids are the greatest joy of my life, and my house has been much too quiet since they left home.
There were sobering moments this Christmas too, with one member of the family ill, recently diagnosed, and our love and attention and concern was focused on him. But with so many people loving and caring for him, we hope that he’ll do well, and recover soon. But things like that are a reality that none of us can escape, and remind me of what I write about—-that no matter how perfect our lives seem to people outside the family, or how fortunate one is, how blessed, or how materially comfortable, none of us can escape the dangers, sadnesses and sometimes bad surprises in life. We are so grateful for the happy moments and good times, but no one is exempt from the bad moments too. They are better when shared, but no one can escape the bumps in the road. (I had an email from a friend 2 days ago, that his mother is very sick, and 2 of my friends in Europe are ill too). Our human frailty and vulnerability is a common bond we all share. We can’t escape our own humanity, our frailties, and those of the people we love. It’s a good reminder to reach out to people we care about, at whatever age. It’s good to stay close and spend time with those we love.
I hope that your holidays were as good as you hoped they would be, or even better, and that the memories will keep you warm for a long time. And if for whatever reason, your holidays fell short this year, then put them behind you, like last year’s Christmas decorations, and let’s move ahead into a bright, healthy, exciting new year. Let’s all look forward to the blessings and good times ahead. May the coming year be a wonderful one for you, and may all your dreams come true.