Thanksgiving is done and the calendar has turned to the last page for 2015. I've done much of my holiday shopping ahead of time (a habit I mocked my Mom for having), and now turn attentions to decorating. Billy took the Chair home so there is space again for the Tree. Billy also brought me one of the many wreaths Mac had bought when she was loopy. A huge riot of greenery with a sled, ice skates, and various other Wintery symbols. It's the one they used to hang on their front door. He doesn't decorate anymore. The over-the-door wreath hanger plays music when its motion sensor is turned on. Silly, but sweet.
Over the next 2 weeks the boxes will emerge from storage. The fake pine bough to hang over the arch between the kitchen and front room, the garland for wherever sparkle is needed, the little Santas, snowmen, choir children and St. Lucia will take their places. I'll hunt out the holiday books- Dickens' Christmas Stories, the carol book, the Goldenbooks and my Dad's trade magazine with nostalgic illustrations from the '50s- that I read every year. I'm having friends over for St. Lucia Day to help me trim the tree, a job that's come to take me a week to do alone. We'll have cocoa and Swedish foods, and play the Christmas television specials from childhood, now on dvds. Lights will shine. Songs will be sung.
But I'm not feeling it.
In years past I've gotten merry way too early and by the time Yule was here I was over the whole thing. I don't think that'll be the case this time.
This year there are friends who are making what will likely be their last Christmases. So there's the Ghost of Christmas Future lurking in the dark corner, waiting with his sickle. Who knew this time last year that Chiefy wouldn't be here for this year's edition, or that any others we've said a final goodbye to in 2015 wouldn't be around to lift a glass? People die, it's part of life. It just gets tougher as the years go by and there are fewer to share the memories, fewer to smile with us. People move far away, too. We can call, we can message, we can mail them. But it's not the same. Presents are called such things for being presented, for presence. Absence doesn't get a bright ribbon, it's just a void.
So we carry on, make new traditions, new memories, fill the voids, tell the stories. We keep what old traditions we hold dear that won't hurt too much. We let go of what we can't do anymore and focus on what and who we still have. Chase away the dark with bright lights. Realize that all we have is right now, this minute, and make the most of it. It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness, they say, and it's true. Once again, we strike the match and hope for the best.
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