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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hallmark Christmas?

This was from last month, but I felt it was worth posting again for those that hadn't read it...



Yesterday was pretty much a perfect Christmas day, if there is such a monster. It was as if Norman Rockwell and Martha Stewart mated in a holy union of holiday perfection over our house. I have much over the past week or so lamenting the holidays, and I have had much sympathy for those who are struggling during these trying times. But Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were great here in Jackson, Michigan, and I think one of the reasons why is that we are looking at Christmas and the holidays through the eyes of a three year old.

I will admit, Anna wasn’t much fun her first two Christmases. Babies are pretty much boring and decidedly not festive.


Eat, poop, sleep, repeat.


While for some, that may make the perfect holiday, it doesn’t do much for me. This year however, it was magical. We had a fine meal on Christmas Eve and then headed out to the “Night Lights” at the fairgrounds. It’s a drive through light show that is pretty cool. Anna was released from her car seat and got to roam around the car (it’s a Britney Spear’s Christmas!) as we drove through the display. We headed then to our church for a candle light service where we were tapped to light the final candle on the advent wreath. It was quite an honor considering we are noobs at the church. Anna then slept through the rest of it, even as the organist blasted a thundering “Joy to the world” from the 100 year old pipe organ. We put her back to bed after reading “The Night before Christmas” to her and we sat as a family in front of the fire and drank wine.
We got a few hours of sleep and then the fun started. Presents, talk of Santa, more presents, all while a gentle snow fell outside. I had to check myself a few times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. While some of you are probably rolling your eyes and throwing up, I just have to say that dammit, it’s about fucking time something goes right at Christmas, because many of my memories around this holiday are pretty damn awful. Let’s review…

· The first few Christmases after Grandpa Oakley died back in the seventies, Grandma Oakley didn’t drive, so she ended up taking the bus up from southern Ohio, or my Mom had to make the perilous journey down to get her. To me, Grandma O was Christmas, and it just wasn’t the same without her at our home.
· The year before my Grandpa Holdgreve died. We could see that he is not long for this world, and indeed he wasn’t. You can see it in our faces as well. The pictures from that year are gruesome to look at as Grandpa was as white as a snowman.
· The year my Mom got sick and we didn’t know what was wrong. The word Lupus was going around, as well as cancer. It ended up being rheumatoid arthritis. My Dad, brother, and I were all in the basement watching a movie and my Mom was stuck in the bathtub upstairs as she couldn’t get out. She laid in the water until one of us finally heard her yelling for help over the movie.
· The year my boyfriend Steve got sick with lymphoma and was in Colorado visiting his family. He had just found out he was HIV positive as well, so this was not good news for anyone. I felt helpless as I listened to him and his family talk on the phone trying to keep happy tones and attitudes while in a hospital’s cancer ward. And then…
· The year that Steve died, on Christmas day. The phone message from his Mom said that he had “made his transition and was in a better place.” My first thoughts each Christmas mornings are of Steve.
· The year I met Tod, but this is several months before we started dating. My relationship with my ex was on the rocks and it was very painful to be with my family. My brother had just gotten married to much fanfare and this was their first Christmas as a married couple. It was also the first Christmas my Grandma Oakley was not at our house for the entire holiday, as she was in the nursing home. I have never felt so alone in all my life.
· The year that we found out a friend from church was killed the day before Christmas Eve in a senseless family argument. He and his family had lit the love candle on the advent wreath at our former church a few weeks prior. I remember his wife being very emotional. It was as if she knew something was going to happen.

So yeah, humor me and allow me on Hallmark Channel Christmas just this once.