It has been an odd season for us for at least two reasons. The biggest, I think, is that we have no children around any more. Sam is 19 and Warren is 20 and we can't really even pretend that they are kids any more. So we have missed a lot of the magic and awe that the holiday season holds with little ones. Both young men asked for really sensible items that they need for Christmas, and that's pretty much what they are getting. Bob and I put up decorations, but fewer than in previous years. There haven't been any big family outings to shop together, no family nights clustered around the TV to watch one of the perennial holiday favorites....nothing like that. Attending the high school alumni concert was probably the high point of my celebration of the season so far.
The other factor affecting this particular observance of the season is that my mother turned 88 earlier this month and was hospitalized on that day. She is at home recovering now (after a brief relapse that put her back into the hospital for a few more days) and doesn't fully have her strength back. While the dampening this has on the holiday is partly obvious, the less obvious part is that my sister, Patty, is usually a veritable Christmas elf. She is one of those people who never outgrew absolutely loving Christmas. She usually has as much fun with the season as the average 6-year-old. But as my mom's primary care giver, she had a lot less energy to pour into the buildup to the celebration. That is a loss to us all.
On the plus side, there are some very nice things happening that are out of the ordinary, too. Warren's other family, who are Mormon, are joining us for Christmas Eve Mass tonight. My brother Don, who lives in Oregon and rarely gets to Ohio, is here for the holidays, so my mom will get to have all four of her children with her on Christmas day, which hasn't happened in decades. Warren will be accompanying us to the Beasley family Christmas, where I think he will feel right at home.
So I'm just enjoying a few minutes of reflection before we start into the rush. We've decided to have Warren and Sam open their gifts before any of us go to church tonight, which is uncharacteristically early for us, but it allows them to open them together, which sounds like more fun. After that it is two Masses for Bob and me. (We cantor one and sing with the choir at the other.) Tomorrow brings Christmas with my family, Saturday brings Christmas with Bob's. It's all good, just good in a slightly different way than we've ever experienced before. May the holidays bring Christmas cheer old and new to us all!