As far back as I can remember, Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. The lights strung all about. The smell of wrapping paper and pine tree mixing with cookies baking in the oven. Rooms filled with laughter, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. It was always a time of peace. A time where everyone puts aside the bullshit from the year and for one moment was family. Yes Christmas was the one time of year where my life was the closest to the Norman Rockwell Painting I so wanted it to be. I miss the feeling of all is right in the world. Maybe it was naiveness of being a child. I just have always felt a calm on Christmas.
I know a lot of people who will be heading to family function filled with grandmas, aunts, uncles and a multitude of cousins. They will grump and complain about how much of a hassle it is. How Nana So-So will fuss over them. It will be a room full of people they only see once or twice a year unless there is a wedding or funeral. Coming from a person who finds a room full of people very overwhelming, I envy you. I envy every single moment you have with them. I would give the world to have a day like that again. After my grandfathers passed in the mid-90s, the holidays seemed to start to crumble away. The fighting on my father’s side had gotten worse. After we moved out of NJ, my dad stopped speaking to his brothers all together. I would like to thank schizophrenic Grandmother and heroin addict Uncle for that. Then for a while it was just my immediate family for holidays but we made the best of it. We occasionally made it to NJ to my Aunt’s house. However it was never quite the same.
Then about 10 years ago, my parent’s decided to get divorced. My Dad moved back to NJ. What little of a family Christmas I had was gone. It went to planning around when which parent had the kids. (Note: My parents have 6 children together. They range with me as the oldest at 29 and my sister is the youngest at 11. The youngest three have always been referred to as the kids.)Then two of my brothers moved out of town. One about 1 1/2hrs away. Another moved to Texas. Then the kids started going to school in Hershey which is 3hrs away. My mom moved closer to be to them. Leaving me behind without any relatives.
I know, at being almost 30, I shouldn’t be bothered by it. But I miss it all. I miss cramming in the car to drive down the shore to my Uncle’s house. I miss the hugs and kisses as you walk through the door. We are part Italian. So you are getting hugged whether you want to or not. I loved it. I miss the same stories about growing up with Grandpa and their various cousins. I miss talking to my cousins. I miss the food. Oh God, How I miss the food! I miss feeling like I am right where I belong. Living in a small town, no matter how many years I live here, I will always be an outsider who married a local. Christmas has sort of lost the luster it once had. Yes my brother and I try to get together for holidays but it is not the same.
Most of all, It makes my heart ache knowing that my children are missing out. I want them to remember Christmas the way I did. Listening to the grownups tell their tales. Playing with cousins while waiting for the arrival of Santa. Opening gifts from our family. Most of all, be filled with the joy that life is meant to be lived by. It is the time of year I feel the most normal. And I would like to have a Christmas like that once more in my life. Even if it is just once.