Even when a major holiday contains many familiar elements through the years, it’s never identical from one year to the next. However, this year’s Christmas for me retained essentially none of its usual components. Nevertheless, it was not a bad Christmas, simply different. The essential elements of a holiday are not confined to the actual day, but begin before it and continue beyond it. It may be useful to recall that the twelve days of Christmas occur after December 25, so we are dwelling in that space now.
Let me begin with an event from yesterday, connected because of the timing and because of my feelings when it occurred, which could be labeled ‘seasonal.’ I had just pulled into the parking lot outside my local hardware store. Before I’d opened my door, a smiling man approached me, talking. I began to open my door and he said, “I’ve just gotten out of detox and I’m taking a train to visit my daughter. Can you spare something to help me buy lunch?”
Now, I give routinely and generously to multiple helping organizations, but rarely contribute to people begging on the street, standing or sitting with signs. So, what did I do? Remembering a recently watched animated version of “A Christmas Carol,” I opened my purse, took out a twenty and handed it to him. He thanked me and continued walking, allowing me to feel like Scrooge, reformed after the ghosts’ visits.
When I arrived home and relayed this experience to Paul and his physical therapist, there because he was three weeks post-knee replacement, they each frowned, certain that I had been hood-winked. Now, I agree with them. I’m generally a rational, sensible person, also trusting, knowing that dishonest people exist. I’m certainly an optimist, often trusting people. When that man was standing there, telling me his story, it didn’t occur to me that he could be lying to me, or that he could have reached into the car and taken my purse, which, fortunately, he didn’t do.
So, that wasn’t a very happy part of my holiday. Let me share more pleasant parts. Christmas Day was to be for Paul ten days post knee replacement surgery. Knowing that I would be immersed in helping him ice his knee and assisting with his chores, until he was physically able to do them, I couldn’t imagine hosting Christmas dinner. Neither would Paul even be able to get in the car to go anyplace. Fortunately, my soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Ginger, volunteered to prepare and deliver Christmas dinner to share with us, asking only that I bake sweet potatoes and steam asparagus. It turned out that I forgot to bake those potatoes, but there was so much food that I never noticed. And, Ginger was too kind to remind me.
She delivered, as promised, leaving me certain that John was making a good decision to marry this woman now, who he’d first been engaged to 35 years ago! They’d split up before that planned wedding, married others, and eventually divorced, freeing themselves for each other again. She’s smart, thoughtful, AND an excellent cook.
And holiday cards? For the first time ever, I had cards printed with images from Egypt! It felt like too significant a trip to simply mention in an annual newsletter. So, the cards have pictures of the pyramids and of us, plus I wrote a half-page of description to insert. Now, into the first week of January, I have just completed addressing, signing, and stamping them. By the time I got to the post office, there were no more holiday stamps — I really liked the gnomes — so, I used Webb telescope images, which I love. So they are ready to mail, late, but with love.
The normal part of our holiday was Christmas night, when we gathered at my niece, Shannon’s house. Of course, Paul couldn’t go, but it was the most normal part of the day for me, a happy, lovely party.
Paul’s knee continues to heal beautifully. John and Ginger will get married in our home next week, marking the end of this Christmas season with shared joy. Those potatoes are yet to be baked, my holiday cards are almost ready to mail, and that twenty that I gave away, may it carry love, yet to be unleashed.
Copyright © 2023
6 thoughts on “A Different Holiday”
Very nice, Carole. Thank you for sharing your holiday thoughts and happenings. Glad to hear Paul is healing well.
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What a lovely holiday photo! And how wonderful to host your family’s wedding at your house. May blessings follow you!!
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Hi, Carole – Sometimes I think that even if the person who approaches me with a story is lying, they must need something or they would not be out making up stories and asking strangers for money. And sometimes I think that’s work, too. The family part sounds great; have a great time hosting the wedding! Feel the joy!
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Unfortunately, I think he needed drugs.
Short story: got Covid two days before planned wedding, so postponed. Then, a few days later, Paul tested positive. Oh, well, we’re ok and feeling very loved.