Bits of Christmas Light

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My Jewish friend once said he felt left out at Christmas, that the sparkling lights on the trees and buildings “are not for me.” A teacher we both knew told him about the pagan origins of the festivals of light celebrated around the world at the darkest time of the year. “The lights can be for you if you want them to be,” he wisely said. But what if all is not peace and light?

It’s a fraught time of year, I find, with trapdoors of angst, regret and disappointment. If I’m not careful, I fall in. Flashes of memory come and go. Dear faces I’ll no longer see. Sweet voices I won’t hear again.

Some years, I was so lonely I couldn’t wait for the holidays to be over. Other years were so frantic with shopping, traveling, and family dysfunction, I was too tired and anxious to be full of good cheer. A close relative used to joke with me about wanting a Thanksgiving table like the one on the wine commercial – big, happy family, everyone getting along. Then we’d laugh and say: “Those people are actors!”

This week, as I dug out my fancy salad recipe for Thanksgiving, I remembered my mother working hard in her kitchen. She was a good baker, but got pretty strung out when she put on a holiday feast. I wish I could have understood her better when she was still alive. Next month, when I bring out my vanilla-stained cookie recipes, I will think of my mother-in-law and her son’s favorite peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss in the center. I wish I could talk to her now.

I’ve come to realize that these winter holidays can be just what we need “if we want them to be.” No one knows where the path may lead, but there are things we can hold on to regardless.

Often, it helps to write or read about them. In the absorbing new novel,  An Uncertain Path, by Sandra Carey Cody,  an unexpected and tragic accident links the lives of two young women, unknown to one another, and sets them on a path they never imagined.

We had an unexpected loss in our own family this month, and our path through the holidays will feel different. But that’s okay. These days, Change is my new middle name. My perspective has shifted quite a bit. I focus on the things I love about Christmas: spending time with friends and family, making and sharing traditional food, listening to special music, driving around to see the lights, attending a Christmas Eve service.

I don’t care anymore if my holiday season is as good as anybody else’s, or like the ones gone by.  In the fullness of time, they all run together anyway.  My wish for you is that these short days are filled with all the peace, love and warmth your heart can hold.

Now it’s your turn. What’s the most important part of the winter holidays for you? What can you do without?

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Post a comment and I’ll put your name in the drawing for a signed copy of An Uncertain Path.  

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The winner of last month’s drawing is Donna Galanti, a wonderful writer herself! She gets an autographed copy of A Time of Fear and Loving by Alice Orr. Congrats, Donna!

14 thoughts on “Bits of Christmas Light

  1. Dear Linda, your heartfelt reflection is an important reminder to claim those precious moments in the midst of the surrounding chaos. Somehow those memories of people and times help me to focus on the happy. Thank you for sharing. Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda, Yay, super excited to win this book! 🙂 And your post is so lovely and rings true for me. Each December I decorate with my family and relish our traditions yet at the same time a sorrow descends over me, as I get lost in memories and those I’ve lost and the wonderful holidays I had with them while also trying to stay true to what Christmas truly is about.

    So … I try to focus on the present, knowing I am making new memories that I will always cherish. And I aim to recreate the spirit my mom infused in our home at Christmas long ago with baking, entertaining, music, candles, and roaring fires all while being surrounded by her dishes, recipes, silver, and decorations. I loved it as a child and I love it now, and in doing this I feel as if she is walking with me and that gives me comfort even though I know I’ll never be with her again. And I remind myself how grateful I am that each and every day I have love in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As I reflect on past holidays I’m filled with gratitude for the loving souls who came my way and touched my soul with the love of my family and friendships over the years. Many have passed on and many I have yet to meet but how blessed am I to have had the opportunity to know such joy. I am forever grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks, Linda, for mentioning An Uncertain Path and for putting it into the hands of another reader. Even greater thanks for your acknowledgement that holidays aren’t “one-size-fits-all”. They are as different and as unique as the families who celebrate them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think keeping happy is the most important part of the holiday. The love we have for ‘traditions’ may be over sensationalized by many Hallmark movies, in my opinion. I do have nostalgia for the people that are no longer with us but I also have their memories. My mother was born on Christmas day and she wanted us to all be happy on that day. She felt privileged for sharing her birthday with this big holiday and she never felt she was missing out on anything. Our traditions are rarely the same two years in a row. Sometimes we can all gather in the same house at the same time and sometimes we can’t because of other plans, illnesses. weather, distance, etc. At the end of Christmas Day, however, I have to say I am the most content if I have seen all four of my grandchildren that day and get a hug from each!

    Liked by 1 person

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