A few nights ago I drifted off to sleep sad that Lilia would never know our family Christmas Eve celebration how I did as a kid. I don't have a ton of really awesome childhood memories but no matter what our family was going through we always had Christmas Eve. This was the Christmas Holiday as far as I am concerned. Christmas Day was only Santa. We would all gather at my mother's house or sometimes my grandmother's house. There would be a great deal of food and treats and we would eat and graze all afternoon into the late evening. There would usually be singing, laughing and game playing of some sort. A wide variety of family and friends would stop by or spend the whole time with us. Early on in the afternoon we would exchange presents with our family meaning our siblings, grandparents and one cousin. Various well wishing adults would bring little gifts for the youngest kids. I don't know if my words describe it properly. The memories are vivid and feel like home.
Then we started growing up and having our own kids. Which at first worked but then schedules conflicted, people moved away, and people passed away. I started to kind of dread the day, I longed for what it used to be. Although I can easily live with out the presents, I remember the anticipation I had as a child for what my siblings might bring for me. I can remember the twinkling lights on the tree and how the whole house felt warm and was filled with magic and happiness. As adults we lost that sense and I think we lost the magic.
This year for the first time ever in my life our family won't be gathering together teaching the next generation the only tradition I knew growing up. It is not likely we ever will again. That season for my family has passed. I began mourning it almost a year ago knowing the next year would be different. I don't know if it saddens me more to not have that day or to know that Lilia will never know that kind of magic.
I went to Target yesterday and was greeted by a Merry Christmas sign. It brought up all those feelings again and I anticipate feeling them a lot this holiday season. It will be the first time since moving that reality that our lives are different now will really smack us in the face. I walked through the aisles of Christmas stuff filled with sadness and some anticipation. While I mourn the loss of my childhood Christmas I do believe there is warmth that will still come upon us as the days grow shorter and the holiday gets closer.
There is another first this year, for the first time in my 21 year history of being an Aunt, I will not be buying my nieces and nephews gifts. With all that is going on, it's just not in our budget. I sucked it up and sent out a message letting everyone know that we couldn't send gifts this year and to please not send us any. The response for the most part was pretty good there was lots of understanding and relief because some people were feeling the same way. I got one response though, that I think might have been a horrible attempt at humor, made me burst into tears. It felt so insensitive and I was already feeling very sensitive and heartbroken about all of this. So I read it and I burst into tears. In a way those tears were a good thing because they have been needing to come out for awhile. I just wish it didn't have to happen in that way.
Today I am grateful that in these lean times my family has surprised me with how supportive they are.