A New Christmas Tradition

It’s Christmas day. I’m sitting in an airport waiting to board a plane back to where I’m currently living. I’m not sure what it is about this day, but it seems to be a very lonely day for a lot folks with Christmas Eve running a close second. Every year, I’m challenged not to be drawn back into those depths.

For the last 8 years, I’ve done quite well moving beyond the sadness. This year, has been a bumpier ride. Often one loss brings forth the lingering shadows of prior ones. With this year’s loss, I found myself taken back to another – to my mother’s bedside in ICU. I held her hand and told her how much I love her as she drew her final breaths on Christmas Eve. I spent Christmas Day alone in a hotel room planning a funeral. Nobody came. Not her church nor her best friend. Everyone was too busy with the holiday. Even her “bishop” brushed me off when I reached out to him from the hospital telling me that he would talk to me in a few days when he got back from his Christmas travels.

I received minimal help from her church the following week and only a handful of folks came to her funeral. Then there were my four half-siblings who had been raised by their father’s side of the family. I hadn’t seen them in 20 years, and they had just lost their mother too. They knew who I was, but it had been too long for them to remember me. Only two of them made it to the funeral due to the weather. I couldn’t blame them for that. I had driven across three states to get to SW Utah in time because the airlines were so backed up with delays and cancellations from a pre-Christmas blizzard in Denver. The two who came drove and brought my mother’s younger sister with them.

Difficult memories. I don’t want Christmas to be like this any more, so I’ve been considering what I could do going forward. My younger one works on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My older daughter’s Christmas is over-the-top and chaotic, which I find overwhelming. She has extended family and in-laws dropping by who don’t even want talk to me. Last year, I managed to make my exit pretty quickly, and this year, I didn’t go at all.

While I don’t know if I’ll ever have the kind of gathering my friends used to (A Christmas Story), I’m still thinking about what I could do differently next year. Instead of hosting many, maybe I can help one. I can volunteer at a hospital around Christmas time and be that one person who is there for someone having the worst Christmas of their life. I can hold that space for them to know that they are not alone. I may be a stranger to them, but even just doing that can make a difference. I know it would have made a world of difference for me.

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