I love Christmas, always have. Doesn't matter what else is going on in my life, everything always stops for Christmas.
I've spent 42 so very different Christmases. So many experiences. Christmas as a child in Canada with my brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, parents and cousins. Opening gifts under a fake silver Christmas tree that was all the rage in the seventies. Christmas in Venezuela with a Palm Christmas tree, alone with my mom and dad. Christmas with a proper pine tree in New Brunswick alone with my Mom when my parents got separated. Christmas with a house full of amazing friends and family when I was a young newlywed. Christmas spent alone (by choice) the year I got divorced, eating KFC direct from the bucket and separating kodak doubles to give to my ex before heading over to my cousin's in my pj's and a Santa hat to give my little god daughters some Christmas hugs. Christmas 2-months pregnant in stilettos and a LBD with my soldier. Christmas in the desert with security guards, hairdressers, compound maintenance staff, local maids and nannies and other drifters partaking in a feast with no family but us to invite them to their table. Christmas back in Canada with my whole family gathered once again; mom, dad, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews. And Christmas this year, just Smilin' Vic, Kiddo and me. For the first time ever. Just the three of us.
So many experiences. All of them Christmas perfect.
It's Christmas Eve, and we've come back from drinks at some friends in the compound. We came home, baked cookies for Santa and decorated them. We tracked Santa on NORAD. Smilin' Vic did the Christmas Eve reading of the Night Before Christmas to Kiddo, as she lay all snuggled up in her bed with her kitty cat, visions of sugarplums dancing in her head (make that visions of 'sugar').
"Santa" has taken an obligatory bite out of twelve cookies to prove he was here. A milk box lies discarded haphazardly by the cookie plate. The gifts are about to be deposited under the tree.
I spoke to my mom. She's in better spirits than I've heard in a long time. Christmas is usually her undoing. I spoke to my dad; his spirits always seem to lift mine. I feel so incredibly blessed.
I'm drinking red wine, wearing a red sweater, looking over quite contentedly at our Christmas tree.
I'm happy. Really, really happy. It's Christmas. How could I not be?
I could tell you that my parents often fought at Christmas, that I raged the year my mom told me we had to make Xmas decorations out of tin foil and popcorn for our Venezuelan Palm "Christmas" tree. I could tell you how my teenage heart broke when I found out my father wouldn't be home for the holidays, and how my ex-husband passed out cold one year knocking over the Christmas tree and setting the lights on fire. I could tell you how I cried when I sifted through that stack of kodak memories, thinking that at age 33 my chances of being a mom, a wife, a family were over. I could tell you how I yearn for snow at Christmas as I face another Christmas in the sand. I could tell you that my heart was breaking tonight, knowing that as I spoke to my dad the Alzheimer's had already erased the oncologist's voice yesterday telling him that the cancer had spread to his liver.
But that would be missing the point. Because those memories don't carry me forward. They don't give me life or hope. The dark memories do absolutely nothing for me, other than provide a contrast to the very brightest moments of my life.
I got a call today from some former Qatari employees. They were calling to wish me a Merry Christmas. Even though the celebration means nothing to them personally, they knew it meant something to me. And again I was overwhelmed with gratitude; that they would care enough to reach out to me. I could tell you I live in a country that does not recognize Christmas. But that would simply be letting the darkness overshadow the truth.
Those calls reminded me once again of everything that shines bright.
May your Christmas shine bright, readers.
Special wishes go out to Katie, MM, C2C and HX Report, who have been a continuous source of blogging inspiration and support in 2013. Merry Christmas!!!!