Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. My family has always gotten together and it will remain a special time in my life. Growing up, we celebrated like any normal family. We didn't get the hottest toys because frankly, we couldn't afford to, but we still had enough that it was fine. Sometimes the better gifts in life are the simple things, which is exactly what we enjoyed. On Christmas morning, we would go to Church together as a family and then come back and eat breakfast, all before we could even open our gifts. As a kid, it seemed like forever before we could open our toys and what not, but it instilled in us the true meaning of Christmas. And that would be, of course, the birth of Jesus Christ. Later in the day, we would all go to my grandma's house to visit with family on my dad's side. Aunts, uncles and cousins would come up from Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. All of us kids got our gifts from grandma of course, but she also had stockings for us, which overflowed with lots of things and without fail, that would always include fruit. It was normal for us and it was special for me. I have to mention that a cousin shares her birthday with Christmas and Jesus' birth and I always felt that that was pretty cool. Sometime between Christmas and New Year's, there was a family Christmas party at an aunt's house. Being that my immediate family lived right next door, we were always obligated to go no matter what. That would get annoying at times, but with time, I came to enjoy the time with all my cousins. If the party happened to fall on New Year's Day, we would go out on my aunt's porch to watch the string bands perform down the street. It consisted of our local string band, as well as a couple of other neighborhood ones.
The Christmas that almost wasn't. The year 2001. That year, on this very day, I lost an uncle who was very special to me. The worst thing was that we never got to say goodbye to him because he had passed away suddenly. His funeral was held December 27th, with the viewing the day before. With that said, it was the first Christmas that I couldn't look forward to and couldn't be happy for the most part. My family and I did what we could and tried our best to make it a good Christmas, but it just wasn't the same knowing that we had to say our final goodbye to him immediately after Christmas. I had a hole in my heart that year (figuratively speaking of course). I can say it brought us together and I'll always appreciate that.
Years passed and things started to change as we got older. Don't worry, we still get together with family on Christmas and the Christmas party continued on for several years. When my aunt was put in a nursing home, we had the party there once. It was different, but it was still fun.
Then came the Christmas of 2010. My grandma had died in March. I had been super close to her and was a primary caregiver for her for a few years. Losing her was absolutely devastating to me and I didn't know how I would get through Christmas without her. One day in December, a musician that I like posted a song that I will always hold dear to me. The song is called Not Far Apart by Irish singer Ryan Kelly, also a member of the Irish band, Celtic Thunder. It's about loved ones in heaven still being there in spirit at Christmas time and how they never leave us. I'll post the song at the end of this. It's special to me because I felt like that was \what my grandma would have wanted me to know and I'm glad I have something to go to if I feel sad around Christmas or anytime really. It still didn't prepare me for how hard it would hit me missing her on Christmas Eve that year. Christmas was pretty hard to get through, but it was special regardless and it ended up being good. That's all I could ever ask for. I still miss my grandma everyday and especially around the holidays and always will. But I have the most amazing family to make it a bit better.
With the birth of my nephew four months ago, this Christmas seems to be taking on a new meaning. We're starting a new generation in my family and I can't wait to start traditions with my little buddy. I think we all want him to be able to look back on Christmas and remember all the special memories with his family, like I am able to now.
In conclusion, Christmas will always be my favorite holiday for many reasons. I like getting my loved ones gifts and seeing their reactions to them. Going to Church/Mass on Christmas is something I enjoy. But I really enjoy spending time with my family and spending time with the ones that I love. I only wish I could spend it with all of my family members, who are scattered all over the country. It doesn't take much for me to be happy and Christmas will always be special to me.
I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Treasure the time with your family and friends because you never know when it will be their last.
Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!