On Friday night, Melanie was chatting on the home phone while I was on the cell phone. I was talking to my dad about the death of my aunt nearly 30 minutes earlier, while Melanie was talking to her pregnant sister-in-law about the labor pains she has recently begun to feel. It was a poignant evening, with each of the poles of the circle of life peering its head into our home.
Melanie and I are not going home for Christmas this year. Wait. Scratch that. We’re staying home for Christmas this year. Our home. I’m not sure that everyone out there understands this decision. But truth be told, I feel like we’ve already reaped the benefit of focusing on our own little family. We’d love to be near others and share the season with them, but given that we don’t live near our families (and friends) of origin, I’m glad we’re keeping things peaceful rather than dealing with the stress of travel. I doubt that we—Melanie, Edison, Peter, and I—have ever felt as involved with each other during the Christmas season as we do this year. It’s a wonderful thing, especially when you realize how beautiful and important your own family is. I haven’t been this excited about Christmas in who knows how long. Part of this is probably that our kids—Edison, more particularly—are getting old enough to appreciate and get thoroughly excited about Christmas themselves. (Because Peter learns from his older brother, even he is a bit more interested in Christmas than Eddie was at Peter’s age.) That helps, but I also think it’s nice that we have the time and energy to do a lot of Christmasy things together, rather than scrambling to visit everyone (and everything) that we don’t get to see at any other time of the year. Kids—ours at least—go through such an adjustment period when you fly them across the country, throw them in an unfamiliar house, and expose them to countless relatively (no pun intended) unfamiliar people. It takes its toll, not to mention the adjustment to a new time zone and a new climate. Yes, I’m indeed grateful that our Christmas season has thus far been quite peaceful.
It might seem bizarre to some, but I’ve always found there to be something quite beautiful in death. Perhaps because of my faith, I always see it as an opportunity to reassess what really matters about life, to draw nearer to those whom we love (including our God), and to be more forgiving of both ourselves and of others, because really, feeling negative is such a waste of precious time. I wasn’t incredibly close to my aunt, but as I learned of her departure from this world, I just felt a strong sense of love for her. It’s a nice feeling. I love feeling love for people, and I think it’s easier to do than we sometimes let it be. In some odd way, my aunt’s passing will make this Christmas all the more special. As someone who still regards Christmas as a religious holiday, I’m grateful for the love—and hence the divinity—that I’ve been able to experience as a part of Christmas this year.
Merry Christmas, everyone.