I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about what was on my mind today … my brain was dredging up some hurt and fears from many years ago.
One December in the early eighties, I knew of three people who died very shortly before Christmas day. One was a friend, not someone I saw and socialized with very often, but a jolly lady with whom I had easy conversations and laughs … Julie Dawson. Another who died was an acquaintance; I didn’t know him well, but I thought very highly of his wife and grown children, and still do. The third person? I can’t recall now who it was, but at the time, the death added to a sadness which befell me.
At that time, that winter, that December, I remember feeling completely miserable for people who had lost loved ones so close to Christmas. I’m not sure if I had a reliable vehicle at the time, but I didn’t bake for the families (sometimes that is all one can do), nor visit at their homes. For our OWN home, I could not bring myself to decorate or put up a tree.
Of course, at this time, I had three children under six to care for, and if I may say so, did an acceptable job. We always played and read and danced together, although my memories have faded a lot, and often I think I could have done better.
All the same, I found much joy in our daughters and pets, and I was so in love with my husband as well.
I threw myself into a flurry of baking … that seemed to be the thing to do, as family and visitors appreciated it and the activity occupied my mind somewhat. I have never forgiven one of the older Dunster ladies for saying, “25 dozen cookies? Pfft … that’s nothing, cookies are EASY…” . She had asked if I had done any baking, and there was much more than “just cookies”, but she interrupted me to insult me. Very silly for me to carry that grudge. Let it go …
On the last of my “planned” baking days (reminding myself that popcorn works for unexpected company too), I tidied the kitchen the best I could … the old countertops and quirky cupboards never seemed clean. I sat down with coffee and the children happy nearby, and thought how I still had three days to clean before family came for the holidays. I have never enjoyed housework like some do, but I was motivated at that time.
When my husband came home from work, the first thing he noticed was that I had let the wood fire in the living room go out. I was working (and later drinking coffee) in the vicinity, but I had neglected to keep it going. I would say that it must not have been extremely cold, for this to have escaped my notice. (There was an oil/wood furnace in the basement.)
And then I was chastised because, “Everything is always in a mess!”. I don’t know … that day there were a few toys around, children’s books on the couch, and probably paperwork on the dining room table and the desk. Perhaps outside there was a dog dish in the driveway or an extension cord carelessly left in the way. I don’t remember it being too bad, but I sure recall the rebuke.
I fled the room in tears, and tripped right over the man’s boots in the middle of the kitchen floor. I should have laughed THEN, instead of waiting until years later to see the humour.
Let it go, Ann.
Now the “kids” are adults, and I’m not very sparkly about Christmas. It’s a pagan celebration to be sure, for us. I like the extra lights around town and whatever I add to our home or kennel building. The things that are important have always BEEN important … having our children around if possible, or at least being in contact. Finding an appropriate gift for each person on our list is great, but now that we are “all grown up”, we enjoy not spending beyond our means, finding something lightly used, upcycled or handmade.
This July, Gary’s daughter and her husband had a baby girl, Juno, so she is our blessing and gift daily, and especially this time of year.
In recent years, one of my dear friends died on the evening of December 25th. Rather than feel depressed, I treasure her memory especially on that day, and feel grateful. Perhaps I didn’t need to feel quite as miserable for the families who lost their loved ones that month so long ago. Death is inevitable, and we can always feel glad if someone has a relatively long life, though we miss them.
This has been one of my most rambly posts ever. I haven’t managed to wax profound about life, death, Christmas or domestic tension, but there you have it. It’s my blog and I can ramble.
I love you for coming here to visit. I wish you a Merry and Peaceful Christmas. If it’s s deep and introspective time and you are missing those who have gone before, I hope your heart mends a little. Hope you have a good year ahead.
Susan, Kim and Shelly with some random Santa who-knows-where. Now they are all grown up, with amazing education and meaningful work. They are wonderful human beings, if I may say so.