|Pink and white Christmas cacti
Today, December 24, 2015, the rain is coming down in alternating drizzles and downpours here in New Jersey. The temperature is hovering at a very un-Christmas-like 70 degrees and plants that are supposed to be dormant by now are still green and growing. Santa will certainly need to remove his heavy red jacket during his deliveries in this area tonight. I can imagine him saying, “Ho Ho Ho, it’s HOT in here!” So, for those of you in New Jersey, do Santa a favor, and leave him a nice cold glass of ice water tonight instead of the hot chocolate.
For me, today, and, indeed, most of the next week, is a “looking back” time. I think it may start with the Christmas decorations. As I unpack each one, I am transported to Christmases Past. I get a comforting feeling of familiarity and tradition, and also a sometimes-melancholy feeling of change and difference. My house is a much quieter place at Christmas than it was many years ago. Once the designated “Christmas Party House,” the much smaller home I purchased after my divorce does not host a holiday throng of family and friends. As my children grew and began being out of the house more and more, it got even quieter. The large set of Christmas dishes, glasses and mugs gradually fell out of use and these years stay wrapped up in storage. Now my children are adults with homes of their own, extended family that also expect their presence on holidays and for some of them, inconvenient distance.
I have the choice to dwell on the quieting of my house, or to reflect; instead, on the new joys life has brought me. I have 4 grandchildren who delight and surprise me on a daily basis. I live with the LOML (love of my life), whom I met just when I was getting ready to resign myself to forever living alone and maybe becoming a crazy cat lady. (Which would be especially difficult considering I have a dog and a bird, neither of which are fond of cats.) I have found a new calling in sharing laughter, not only for the fun of it, but also for the health of it. With a few stumbles and some glancing over my shoulder, I am learning to embrace change and move forward.
I am grateful to be living in the days of Internet and cell phones, which help me keep in touch with my children, my family and my friends. Video chatting with my grandchildren is something my own grandmother never dreamed of. I remember that even making a “long distance call” to absent relatives on the holidays was a special event and always a rushed affair. Technology has truly made the world a smaller place. And although there are drawback and concerns about oversharing and lack of privacy, it is also a great thing that, this week especially, I can look back on my social media and remember all the smiles, laughter, tears and sighs from the past year.
This week, I will physically embrace the loved ones that I can, emotionally embrace those who are distant, and open my heart to feelings of peace, joy and love.
As we head into a New Year, may we all find bright spots of happiness to light our way when the road is dark.