I was given a bouquet of yellow, white and blue flowers a few weeks ago. I looked up one day and happened to notice they looked pretty bad so I went to throw them out yesterday morning and I realized how vibrant the blue ones were. So I culled the other flowers and three blue ones remained.
"It is a blue Christmas for so many" were the first words that came to my mind.
I sat still with the thought and let it marinade. I didn't do much with it but just sat still and thought of those who may be looking back on "Christmases past" and remembering and missing and longing for just a little bit of the way life used to be.
While I was at it, I fast tracked through Christmases past, in my own mind. I didn't stop and linger anywhere for very long but the one Christmas that stood out in my mind was the first year I didn't spend with my own family. I remember the emptiness I felt, when I thought of what I was missing.
As Christmas evolved throughout the years, it has become a little bit "less" with each passing year. This year, it was the least of all Christmases but it still shone like the north star and will probably be one that stands out in my mind as one of the best.
The last time I went out to see Mom, she announced that she thought this would be the year she would "cancel Christmas". Those are not her words. I can't remember her words. But when there are children and grand children and great grandchildren it is a very good idea to put a "cap" on an age when the gift giving comes to an end. Since Mom never did that, it seemed to me that she just thought "this year" would be a very good place to start.
I told this to my Second Son and he was in total agreement. I was too, because the idea of giving something that no one really needs or wants is not high on my list of things I enjoy doing. And so began our Christmas Expectations of 2015.
It was the year of no expectations. It is very easy to meet or beat what happens when you set your expectation level at nil. This sounds dreary and depressing but it was not that way at all.
I still "gave" what I have to give at this time of year. "Words" are where it is at for me. It is what I do, how I share and it is the gift I share when I have them in me to give. I wrote my Christmas cards, I put together my daycare yearbook, I wrote notes of gratitude to those who unknowingly make a difference in my world and I was done.
Except I wasn't.
I placed a white envelope for each of my sons in our Christmas tree and wrote them a note about what I did in lieu of a gift for them. Not only did it give them something to do while I cleaned up after our Christmas meal, but it got a quiet nod of approval from my Second Son.
But, as my mom has often said, "Charity begins at home" and I know how much difference a little unexpected cash can make. So I suppose I took away from the spirit of the white envelope, when I handed each of my sons a red envelope which contained a little bit of something "extra" for them.
We didn't have gifts to open this year. Perhaps because our gift was in opening up a Christmas morning, much like any other morning. We woke up to life as we expect it to be. Life may not be easy all of the time but when you wake up to a peaceful life, with a heart that is beating a good, strong beat and a body that does everything you need it to do, that is a gift like no other.
This was the year I cooked for my family again. I can't remember the last time I cooked a Christmas meal. My Second Son took over that tradition for several years and it has been so long since I took the reins and actually cooked, I knew it was time.
I dried out our roast, our potatoes were a little "off", the Yorkshire pudding could have been cooked a tad longer and all I said before we sat down to eat is "About the potatoes ... I know". My son hates it when I go on and on about this, that and the other thing that is wrong about my cooking. So I just had to say "I know", so they knew I knew it was not a perfect meal. But my Second Son ate up his meal, told me that if I made Yorkshire pudding, it would make his year. And when the meal was over, he tactfully said, "It tastes just the way I remember it!"
We played a rousing game of Monopoly, shared a lot of laughter, my Second Son videoed a "Monopoly Moment" and sent it via "Snapchat" to Oldest Son, halfway across the world (while he is vacationing in Bali) and for the moments they "chatted" our whole family sat together at our kitchen table.
We had our "midnight snack" by 6:00, then retired to the living room where we chatted for a little while. We tried to call Mom, to bring her into our day but she was talking with her sister so I called her later.
My son left by 7:00 and we laughed at how we fast-tracked our way through an entire Christmas day in four hours.
Four light and easy hours, sitting around a table, eating, playing, laughing and chatting. My Second Son threw his hands up into the air and said (something to the effect of), "Some people spend all day doing what we just did in four hours!"
It is a gift to spend time with those you want to spend your time with. It makes the quietness of the "before" and the reflection of the "after" a little sweeter.
It is those who are missing "those they wish they could be spending time with" or missing the plain old ordinary life they used to wake up to who were in my thoughts.
Waking up with a light heart, a content and peaceful life and a body that does what you need and want it to do is a gift. Any day of the year.