When Samantha was little ......
(littler than 10, I mean to me, ten is still little, although she is my baby so maybe 37 will still seem little...)
and there I go again..... okay what I'm trying to spit out is that a few years ago our Christmas Eve used to go like this....
3:00..... go save seats at church for the 4:00 mass. (the rest of my family would arrive around 3:45, I would be grouchy because why is it always me who can be responsible to get there early to save seats for everyone, why can't someone save a seat for me & let me get there at a leisurely pace for once.)
After Church (which is downtown) onto Irondequiot to Aunt Joyce's to see Sam's Dad's side of the family. Just as things are getting going, we have to leave.........
to go to my parents house to see my Dad's side of the family...... this used to be at Aunt Susan's in Chili, but graciously was moved to my parents house in the gates area for the last few years (but not last year.... but I'll get to that) This always proved to be the shortest stop.
Then onto Aunt Diane's in Gates or Richie & Sheila's in Greece(Sam's Mom's side) where things would be winding down.....
Then home..... usually by eleven or twelve.
We basically spent Christmas Eve in the Car.
All those stops, all that traveling, coats & boots, & hugs & kisses.
All that LOVE ! I would always think to myself as we were schlepping to the next place how blessed we were to be wanted. Some people are alone for Christmas. Some people are alone all the time. We have so many people that love us and that we love that we have to run around like crazy !
On Christmas Eve in the year 2000, on our way home from our last stop, around 11:30, we pulled onto our street from Maiden Lane instead of Ridge Road (our house was closest to Ridge Road). Even from that far away I could see the emergency lights flashing. Right away I panicked just knowing it was my Grandpa, Sammy thought the lights were too close to us, and not close enough to the end of the street to be my Grandpa's house. -he lived across the street from us- But it was. And he passed away at the hospital, on Dec. 25. My Grandpa's name was Noel. It was pronounced (Knoll) but....... I thought it was poignant.
That changed Christmas for me, bad at first, but just different after that. As with every loss, you continue to feel it, some days more than others, but gradually you let happiness back in . The feeling of loss never goes away, but you make room for the good stuff, the happy stuff.
When little Libby came along & was diagnosed with her immune system deficiency we were told by her doctors to limit the places we went in the winter time (respiratory season). Especially large gatherings of people. So for the next couple years we laid low, divided our stops, stopped at 2 instead of 3. Or even just 1.
In July of 2006 we lost Sam's Mom. An unexpected death is so different.
Somewhere inside you, you know that when you become an adult, or even before then that your Grandparents will pass away. It's the natural order of things.
But when you lose someone who should have been around to see your children grow, or to see your sister-in-law start her family, or to be able to call her to see how she makes her chicken soup, it's different. You feel cheated.
So Christmas last year we resumed our Church, Aunt Joyce's, eliminated my Mom's house, then to Aunt Diane's. Christmas Eve was still busy. Even without my Mom's house.
With my Grandpa gone, & Aunt Susan in Florida we tried having Christmas Eve at my Mom's in 2005, but one uncle didn't come, & the other only stopped by with his family . After making a huge dinner for everyone & having no one there for it, her decision was simple.
Christmas Day last year, Sam had to work. My parents came over for dinner. But we usually spent the day with my parents & my mother-in-law & sister-in-law. I love my parents, but it just didn't feel like Christmas. I want chaos. I want noise. I want it to be crowded. I want to be frustrated because there are too many people in my kitchen while I'm trying to cook. It's Christmas Day.
We're in the same boat this year. It looks like it will be me, the girls, & my parents on Christmas Day. Sam also has to work Christmas Eve until 8:00 p.m. He won't see the girls in their Christmas Play at Church, or make it to Aunt Joyce's.
Somehow when you fill the day with places to go & people to see, or have over it dulls the ache of missing loved ones. It doesn't take it away, but it fills the empty places for a moment or two.
The hustle & bustle. It's fantastic. It keeps me going. It keeps our minds busy.
I wish I could be saving that one extra seat for Christmas Eve Mass. I would give all that I have. I guess she has a better view now. So I am going to promise myself to be grateful to have to save seats. Because then I can still hug these family members when I wish them Merry Christmas. You never know when that will abruptly stop.