Please allow me these last few minutes of Christmas Day to wish every one of you a very joy-filled Christmas holiday. My wish for you is that you find love and beauty in the simple things in your life this new year and keep it all the years through.
Last year at this time Mike and the kids and I spent the Christmas holidays in the Delta Chelsea Inn in Toronto. It was truly lovely, especially since the doctors had no intention of discharging me from the hospital. I had other plans. Mike and the kids prepared and drove throughout Christmas eve to eventually arrive just before dusk. As for me, I had been chasing the doctors all day in hopes of procuring a reprieve for the night of Christmas eve as well as Christmas day. Finally, around 7pm, they conceded.
Mike got me into the hotel room and he and Katie headed for the nearest pizza place to bring back our dinner. They hadn’t eaten all day. I hadn’t eaten, well at least without the aid of a drip, for well over two weeks. Pizza was something I just wasn’t sure I could stomach. As Mike and Katie headed out, Riley escorted his mom down to the hotel restaurant. Once there, we decided to make a special Christmas soup by combining Hearty Vegetable and Sweet Potato. It was yummy! And the best Christmas dinner I could have hoped to share with my little boy once back in our room. It was such a special moment for us both, and created a memory neither one of us will ever forget.
This year’s Christmas Eve was so different from last … and exactly the same as most others. This Christmas Eve was spent with family. As tradition would have it, my brother’s families gather with mine at our mother’s house for a pot luck Christmas meal. There, we eat, track Santa’s journey, exchange gifts, and simply relax in the company of one another and the beautiful children who grace our family. Last night was no exception, and yet, after the events of these past few years, it was truly exceptional.
My youngest brother and his wife brought their beautiful baby girl. At five months old, she is filled with wonder, laughter, and complete and utter joy. My younger brother and his wife bring with them two beautiful children who simply light up any room they walk into, and my step-brother and his wife bring with them their two handsome twin boys. Quiet and strong, these boys are a rare combination of bashful smiles and rough and tumble.
“I wanna sit with Riley,” was, I believe the first thing I heard one of the twins utter as we gathered around the table to break bread. My son Riley and daughter Kate are the eldest of the cousins. They are the ones the others look to as a gauge for their own behaviour. Riley is the family clown (though I feel his position may soon be usurped by the baby!) and Katie is the one everyone can turn to when something gets spilled or knocked over. In a word, my two make all of the other kid behaviour look so … good!
These last few days differed from last year in another way as well. This year, the week leading up to Christmas was a blur. Last year, the week leading up to Christmas nearly brought an end to my life. Though it should have been a blur, I recall nearly each and every moment of my hospital stay. More importantly, I recall the slow walk Riley and I made to through the hotel, I remember the smile on his face as we sat in the big hotel room chair and sipped our soup. I remember Mike’s face as he cautiously offered me a small slice of pizza, and the feel of his arms around me as he held my fragile body in the bed that night. I remember the soft sound of my daughter’s breathing as she slept in her bed beside me.
Because of last year, the Christmas rush of this, and most other years dissolved. By times, the world slowed down, and the true gift of Christmas came through in my family’s love. This year, as these past few weeks whirled around me, I stopped every so often, looked over to my son and daughter, held my husband, and saw Christmas as a moment of being. Even amongst the Christmas rush, the presence of my family gathered around my mother’s table, and later, sleeping in their own beds at home, slowed the world down and allowed me to thank the heavens for the most important gift of all, the gift of presence. May the joy of Christmas be in your heart always.