“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder
What does Christmas mean to you?
When I was a little girl, I remember looking forward to Christmas with such eager anticipation. It was such a beautiful time of the year and still is. Of course, as a kid, I loved the presents I would find under the tree on Christmas morning but it was far more than that.
My mother is a fantastic cook and since we had a large, finished basement and a big family, my aunts, uncles and cousins would often gather at our house. Looking back, I don’t know how the adults managed a room filled with overexcited and anxious kids.
I remember how my dad used to dress up as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve for all the kids, including me. One look into Santa’s eyes and I always knew it was my father but I never said a word. Then one year my mom was feeling a bit left out and decided it was her turn to dress up as Santa! We all laughed wholeheartedly, my mother’s “Ho. Ho. Ho,” gave her away.
My mother would make the traditional Italian fish dinner on Christmas Eve and a host of other Italian favorites on Christmas Day like homemade manicotti. Those were such happy times.
Looking back what I miss most of all were all the beautiful memories I made with my family and friends. When we are young and carefree we live more in the moment and don’t worry or think too much about the future. But now that I’m in the future, I realize just how precious those times really were. You see my family has gotten much smaller since then. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends have passed on. Although I know they will always be with me in spirit, I miss them in the flesh.
I only wish that I could have one more opportunity to share the laughter and those cherished happy times. Oh, what I wouldn’t do for one more time. One more hug. One more chance to say “I love you.”
If I could go back in time, I would do so many things differently. I would take more time hanging the decorations and trinkets on the tree with my family. I would sit on my father’s lap a little longer and hug a little more. I would make more time. More time for family. More time for friends. More time to be still and simply enjoy the moment.
Since my Godmother Lucy had no children, I was her “adopted” daughter. I called her my second mother. We did everything together. She would help me write my letters to Santa and hang my stocking on Christmas Eve. Lucy passed of a heart attack in February 2010. I hope she knows how much she meant to me. I hope she knows how precious those times were and how much I love her. I only wish I had realized it sooner. Maybe I would have told her I love her a thousand more times.
When my Uncle Angelo passed away, my cousin Vito stood up in church and made such a moving tribute to his father. He looked at all of us sitting in the pews and reminded us that we all had the love we shared and no one, absolutely no one could ever take that away from us. Absolutely true.
Some of my family members and friends may have passed on but the love is still very much alive. As I so often say, love never, ever dies. It is the one thing we take with us from this life into the next. The love is still very much there. In fact, the memories are there for me to unwrap anytime I need one. And if you are one of the many missing a loved one this holiday season, do just that. Reach within your heart and unwrap a precious memory.
Truthfully, I still look forward to Christmas with utter excitement. It brings out the child forever inborn in me. But I don’t look forward to the presents under the tree as much as I once did. As I’ve aged and learned, I’ve realized that Christmas is less about the presents and more about the kisses under the mistletoe. It’s less about that often regretted fruitcake and more about spending quality time with family and friends.
The other day my daughter Lia told me that she loves the Christmas season and asked, “Mom, what do you want for Christmas?” My response was, “Lia, I already have everything I want. I just want to spend time with my family and friends.” She responded with one of her priceless, million dollar hugs.
Someday I hope my two daughters will be able to look back at all the happy times. I hope their hearts will be filled with fond memories to warm them and comfort them for a lifetime.
What does Christmas mean to you? These days it has become so commercialized that people seem to forget that we are actually celebrating the birth of Christ.
As you go through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Take note of all the things you have to be grateful for. Take a moment to appreciate the family and friends in your life and the love in your heart. May you live in the moment and realize that every day is truly a gift.
To my family and friends, I love and cherish you and always will. Wishing you all happy times, endearing memories and love. Happy Holidays!
This blog is dedicated in memory of a friend and contributor to my books, William Fechter. Thank you for your unwavering support, William. I am blessed to have called you my friend. You will forever be remembered.