I say Merry Christmas with a heavy heart this Christmas Eve. Seldom do we ever know when the *last Christmas* will come. There are so many levels to that thought. Tomorrow would have marked the third week from the day my dear neighbor, Cammie, was driven away from her house by her son who happens to be a nurse. A few days after her arrival at Good Samaritan Hospital came the diagnosis of cancer; fifteen days later she departed this earth for her real home. For the last 23 Christmases there has always been a walk next door to deliver homemade cookies or pictures or some simple gift. Last year we made that walk with no thought that it was our last.
Today is Christmas Eve. This is a day that has so much tradition in our house and in our hearts. Traditions of old would have the entire family at my mom’s tonight. Never in a big house, so you would be sitting up against someone. The house would be so noisy with countless conversations between sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts & uncles. We never knew that one of those Christmas Eve’s would be the last as kids grew up and married. Traditions slowly changed over the years. My kids have spent the last several years hanging out at Misty’s on Christmas Eve. Misty, Katherine & the girls spend most of the day baking. They can recite the routine: wake up & make cinnamon rolls, roll up a cheese ball for snacking throughout the day, mixing and baking cookies and pies, making peanut brittle and other assorted candy. All of this going on, no doubt, with Christmas music blaring from the Ipod.
Tonight we’ll gather at Sharon’s (a new tradition, but a beautiful night with my family). My mom & dad, Connie & her children and grandchildren, and my family will share precious time and a few presents! This year particularly, I will take a moment to truly immerse myself in the joy of being surrounded by this growing family.
Tomorrow – Christmas Day -
Early morning with my husband and children – a day that starts with gratitude and always ends with stories and laughter – ALWAYS. I think Katherine & Jes love each other more on this day than any other day of the year. There is not a second thought to how we’ll spend the rest of our Christmas Day, of course we’ll be with our entire family at the Carden residence. My kids have never known anything different on Christmas Day. Some day I guess they will, but I pray those days are far in the future.
This year I am profoundly aware of the fact that we are fortunate to have not lost a member of our family. Christmas Day always brings an overwhelming love from my family that feels like a warm blanket. It is a blanket I wish I could wrap myself in all year long. I want to hold these days tight and not let them go. I want a guarantee that they’ll never change but my heart is wise and tells me different.
Fifteen days. A family’s life forever changed. Last year, I’m sure, was full of tradition for Cammie & her family. Cammie will be in my heart and on my mind as I celebrate this holiday with the people I treasure most in my life. I will honor her memory by expressing an abundance of love and heartfelt gratitude to my family while being keenly aware that we never know when it is our last.