I think, perhaps, I had been pretending that Christmas wasn't coming this year. Oh, certainly I have procured some gifts, and I have sung a few carols. It's cold, which means December in my part of southern California. The winter holidays are upon us.
Today we put up the tree. We didn't decorate it, but we did manage to get the Lego train set up around it. We'll do a little bit each evening, and in a few evenings we'll be finished. Each year we've pared down the decorations. Each year I think that I don't want to put up the tree, and even now I dread actually decorating it. But as soon as it is finished I love it.
Today the full force of the fact that my mom is gone really hit me. I keep encountering it in little ways; thinking of her when I see Aplets and Cotlets at the local market, or when T-Guy breezes through a book that was too hard for him just last spring, or when I go to my dad's house and the bed is made. They are little things, and I will feel a little sad, and then I will fall back into rhythm. Today though, I could no longer escape the thought that my mom will not be with us this Christmas.
Perhaps it is because I helped my dad do his online shopping yesterday. Perhaps it was pulling out the silly Laker's Santa hat she gave Papa last year. Perhaps it was knowing that I haven't wrapped a single item, and she hasn't been on the phone to ask me about it.
I'm glad that we've simplified Christmas; it makes it easier to face this year. Our focus is less on stuff, and more on people. We spread the happy times over a few weeks. There is a holiday birthday party for my FIL, and we'll draw names for gifts on that side of the family. Our friends have invited us to a Solstice celebration at their home (bringing our own celebration of Solstice to a new level). There is a Christmas Eve service and party at the church that we would love to attend. Christmas morning my FIL will come over for a simple breakfast (my fancy brunch of years past is gone). That afternoon we'll gather at my dad's house, and allow the glee of the children to carry us through what will most likely be a day of teary memories. On the 27th we're heading to the desert for the day, to see Abuela and visit the desert zoo. Then on the 29th the whole big family will gather for a day of cousins. Our plans for the new year are up in the air, however we are thinking we'll have a simple, elegant meal on New Year's Eve and then invite friends to stop by on New Year's Day for a soup potluck open house.
It sounds like a lot, and it is. What makes me smile is the focus on family and friends.