Christmas is by far the best time of the year. I have always enjoyed the magical feeling surrounding the holiday. One thing I have not yet understood until lately is the feeling of sadness that tugs a bit at me during this season. The other night on the radio I figured it out... We can always create new memories and always be excited with new things, but the bottom line is that we miss those we love the most during Christmas.
I spent my years as a child at Christmas going to Grandmommy's then to Granny Jac's and then we'd go over to Grandaddy & Rae's a few days later... on Christmas Eve we went to Ina's with the Stewart family and then to church at midnight. My tiny family of three gathered around to sing with the piano and read the Christmas story then rip into our gifts. I remember laughter and passing out gifts playing Santa Claus. I excitedly awoke Christmas morning to see what Santa had left... Mom snapped pictures and I played with my new toys. The thing is... No matter where our lives go and how old we get... we have those memories. And sometimes they make me sad to know I am not that same little girl anymore.
This year I look back and realize I have lost two loved ones this year. My grandmother, Rae... Dad's stepmother passed away and we hadn't seen one another in years as she lived up North... I erased her off my Christmas card list today and felt a tug on my heart. I remember our last Christmas with Grandaddy. He had just found out he was ill with heart cancer, I believe... His body was swollen and we kept laughing telling him he was Popeye. He was so very happy with Rae so after we lost him it was awkward a bit with her... We didn't share the same connection and she had her own daughter and family. We always looked forward to Rae's neat gifts because she would special order crazy things from Neiman Marcus or give me dolls I couldn't really touch because they were so pristine and glass. She was always so loving... and made me laugh.
I have had a very hard time in the loss of Sarah... Chandra told me last week how often she thinks of Sarah. I said something to quickly get off the subject because it was too hard. Sarah is often in my dreams. I would get to see her many times as we both would go to visit in Big Spring. We took a funny picture two years ago visiting as her mother made me put on a Santa hat! I don't talk about the loss much because no one really understands. She was one of my very best friends and we were so different... but, what did that matter? I was going through photos to put in my Christmas album online and I kept finding her in high school photos when we would take pictures out looking at lights... I miss Sarah so much.
And... of course... Mom. I hear you just never lose that feeling around the holiday season. I have so many great memories of her at Christmas. I believe it was our last Christmas together in 2000 when we had to travel home in the freeze... She was freaking out as we drove sliding on the roads from the Stewart household. I remember trying not to laugh because she was so frantic and my Dad was so calm. I remember the first Christmas where it was just Dad and I as we sat across from one another by the tree just staring because we had no idea what to do... and again last year when Brenda was with her daughter up north and we didn't really know where to start... It is different now and maybe that's a good thing, but man, you don't forget those times growing up with your small little family and seeing the gleam in your mother's eye. I miss her most... Yes, I do... at Christmas.
And then we grow up.
We make new memories and we laugh and we smile and we enjoy. Traditions begin and we try to figure it all out with our own lives. I try to visit family in Welch and make sure I see D'Layna, but with "real life" and work it is often hard to get over there. We go to the Stewart household with Stephanie and her family and this year get to meet baby Trooper. The house is filled with laughter and new people and gifts and dogs. We go visit Grandmommy... and we take her out to eat. I remember the last Christmas with Granny Jac as she was mentally leaving us and I fought back tears as she couldn't really remember it was Christmas... My heart was broken at that table and I remember just falling apart inside. We often go to Oklahoma with the family I so blessingly inherited with Brenda. We have Brenda who brings light and laughter to our household. Alyssa and her kids spend the night with us and Santa wakes us up in the morning as everyone's stockings are filled with more gifts. It's all so different, but that's a wonderful thing. It's such a blessing to always create new traditions.
Nick's godparents had eight children so they have a huge rendezvous on Christmas Eve with everyone at his parents' house... I truthfully don't know how we will ever come together to compromise our family traditions. The Stewart family is my other family and as long as Ina is living I will be there. And I will NEVER leave my Dad without me. It may sound crazy, but we both deep inside know that first Christmas without Mom and we don't lose that feeling... even though we are surrounded by love... we remember that time. I am truly thankful to have Nick and his family in my life as we make more tradition.
I am so thankful to have my amazing family and friends as we continue to make Christmas just as special as the years before... It might always tug at our hearts and we may get a little sad at certain times... but, I'm so thankful God has given me such wonderful memories and amazing traditions that will forever change and grow as I continue on this journey of life.