|Christmas, a time to
spread the word of love
and happiness - a time of
family. This year my family
has become sadly smaller
than I ever imagined
I certainly never imagined a Christmas without my mother
being on this planet, but this year I have had to come to terms
with mortality, both hers, and one day mine.
Christmas over the past few years, especially since moving
to the Middle East, has in all honesty just become another
reason for a party.
Hallmark cards cost a small fortune to buy and a bigger one
to post. Gifts bought here cost triple to post to overseas
relatives than they do to purchase them, and so I let much of
the holiday season pass by. Over recent years I merely made
a phone call, said the words, greetings of holidays and
It is not just the Middle East, though, that has culled my
sense of festivity for the season. My first career was as a chef,
and this career lasted several decades, during which time
Christmas was our busiest period. Therefore over those same
decades I barely had time to enjoy Christmas myself, instead
ensuring that everyone else had mince pies, stuffed turkeys
and houses of gingerbread at their dining table. My family, my
life, and my own festive cheer came second and third to a
notion that my career would always keep me comfortable.
But Marilyn Monroe was smarter than I when she said, "A
career is wonderful, but you can't curl up with it on a cold
night." For too many years the comfort of my trade was
enough, but today in the bleakness that has descended upon
my life in the passing of my mother, it no longer does.
My mother suffered a horrid life in her youth. Those who
speak of hardships in modern day life have little knowledge of
how bad things where in the 1940's. However, despite her
difficult upbringing she adored Christmas and she made it
special for my sister and me. Our growing up and separation by
seas and geography dulled those childhood memories for me.
But I see now why, despite her terrible early years, she held
so strongly to the seasonal traditions. Laura Ingalls Wilder
says this best: "Our hearts grow tender with childhood
memories and love of family, and we are better throughout the
year for having, in
spirit, become a child again at Christmas."
There was some secret memory, perhaps of a time before the
passing of her own mother, when her family was whole and
loving, that she clung to in her heart and mind. Christmas
fulfilled my mother like little else. The carols, cards, gifts and
food were one thing, aside from the love of her children and
husband, that truly made her life complete.
Working on cruise ships years ago I remember our ships
would always be full. We filled them with copious beverages
and the food production was immense, yet it was also the time
we had the most complaints. And I now know why!
Our passengers where never satiated. Presents, alcohol, food
and gifts of the cruise line company could never fill the void of
family and loved ones.
Christmas has a religious beginning and I do not mean to
belittle it in any way, but as the years move on, as beliefs stray
or as the meaning dissipates due to geography, we must ALL
remember one thing of the season.
Christmas presents can make us happy for moments, but the
presence of family and friends at Christmas gives us moments
which are true gifts within our lives.
Another quote from Roy L Smith states: "He who has not
Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."
I wish I had spent more time with my family, especially my
mother. As I move into this new era of my life leaving the life
of devoted son behind, and turn into being a husband and
soon-to-be father, I will never forget, as often as possible, to
be present in the lives of my family and those dear to me, even
if the expense of such devotion costs us the presents of toys
and trinkets they expected.
Merry Christmas to you all and to all a Happy New Year.