Growing up near the lake snow belt in Michigan, we typically had snow for Christmas. I remember a couple of years when we didn’t. Couldn’t tell you exactly how many but it was rare. And I couldn’t tell you how many years we’ve had snow in my current location but it seems like it is far more common to not have any snow for Christmas. Checking the long range forecast, it looks like that will be the case again this year.
This is the first Christmas since Dad died. After someone close dies, you just have a lot of these grim “firsts”. In part because so many memories are tied up in holidays like Christmas. And things you just did that are no longer required such as buying a gift just make it all the more obvious that something is different this year.
As an adult, the gifts became less important. There is really only so much “stuff” one needs. But it made us hard to shop for which was something Mom always talked about. They kind of shifted to buying us decorative items and several that were Christmas themed. The risk with decorative stuff is that something you think is cute can be tacky to someone else.
Still, every year, I bring the Christmas stuff down to put up on all our mantles. Yes, we have an impressive display of nick-knacks and have almost run out of room so it like solving a puzzle to get them to all fit. But it is always nice to bring back the gifts they gave us. And I know these are just objects but they all have a story and it is like a part of them is still around.
In their last couple of years, when they were less mobile, Mom ended up relying on catalogs and shipping things directly to us and it was something she’d fret about because it didn’t seem “right” to her. Would always get emails that were almost apologies even though we all tried to tell her that it didn’t matter to any of us. Funny that some of the things she was almost embarrassed about are things that mean a lot more now.
After she died, Dad was just unable to do any shopping at all. He couldn’t really see the catalogs and would have had no luck trying to negotiate a website or phone call so he just sent checks. Again, even though we all said it didn’t matter and we’d fully understand but I think there was just a need to send something. (I used electronic deposit and actually kept a check or two for a bit just because).
I don’t mean for this to be a downer. I think it is just a natural part of life. As a kid, Christmas was nothing but happiness and wonder. And that is still true today. It is just that when you reach a certain age, you can’t help but have an undercurrent of sadness about the past and those that live on only in memories, photographs and objects.