I have developed a love/hate relationship with Christmas. It has nothing to do with the commercialization of the holiday, the over-emphasis on gifts or any other cynical curmudgeony rants.
You see, my mom loved Christmas. I mean LOVED it. So as we start establishing traditions and enjoying the season with our children, I am reminded of what I learned growing up. And there is no quick call home to say, "Oh Mom, you remember this," laugh and move on. I am alone in my reminiscing. I can tell Hubby the stories, and he willingly listens every year, but it's not the same.
And the end of the Christmas season brings back even more painful memories when Dec. 31 rolls around. I remember the frantic call at 3 a.m., mere hours before we were planning to leave for PA for an emergency visit. We were too late.
This week, when we piled into the van as a family to pick our tree, I was excited, but I still felt as though a weight was being pressed down onto my chest. That feeling will come and go for the next month. It resurfaced this morning as we dug through the ornament boxes and hung some of the same ornaments I did as a child.
It will hit me again when I pull out Mom's pizzelle iron to make cookies for an exchange in a few weeks. And again Christmas morning, because she will never enjoy seeing her grandchildren wake at the crack of dawn to tear down the stairs to see what Santa brought.
But I can't pull a Grinch and bury my head in the sand to wait for Jan. 1. It would dishonor her memory and deny my children the same joy I used to have every December. Because I too used to adore Christmas: the music, the snow, the tree, the decorations, everything.
So when I want to cry, I glue a smile on my face because I don't know what else to do. I hope someday the glue isn't necessary.