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Welcoming Life

Home for the Holidays

Sixty two years. For sixty two years, I spent Christmas Day with my mother. And before that with my mother and father (he died in 1996).I almost skipped a year.In my book Above & Beyond Wellfleet, I share the story about how the first holidays without my husband was too much for me to bear.I write "I ran away from home". I took a four-week sojourn traveling to five cities in Canada-two stops in Quebec Province, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.I stayed in small hotels, visited museums, took long chilling walks,tested many onion soup recipes, wrote nightly emails to friends and family who were following me describing what turned out to be a reawakening of appreciating not what I had lost but what I had slowly gained.I love traditions,but on this trip, I broke many of them.For example, I spent Thanksgiving dinner at Les Trois Canards-a small bistro. I had onion soup and listening to Christmas music.Before lunch, I visited and prayed at the Benoit Abby in the mountains-working so hard to make my prayers about gratitude.That really was the point of my trip to make the holidays completely different from traditions that made me happy--but at that point the old traditions accentuated my loss.The trip worked its magic.I found that while my loss was great, I was still tethered to what had made me happy for most of my life--my family.My 91 one year old mother (pictured at our Cape House at Christmas the year before ) waved goodbye to me from her assisted living home as I started my journey-believing and more importantly accepting that this Christmas would be the first we would not spend together.My children and grandchildren met me on December 14th in Montpelier, VT for what they thought was going to be our family Christmas that year.But they were wrong.I surprised them all Christmas Eve Day. I surprised mother, gave her hug and said get on your red Geiger jacket (one pictured in the photograph) you're coming to my house for Christmas Eve. I called my daughter and said "what are you doing tonight" --she answered well, I don't know-I said "why don't you come to my house?" "Why?", she said "you won't be there." I said, "oh, but I will."I then called my son in Connecticut (unmarried at the time) and asked him to come for Christmas Day. I power shopped for the groceries and had a great time at Marshalls buying new Christmas decorations.I was coming home for the holidays, I was continuing an unbroken record with my mother.A record that stood intact until she died six years later at 97.The heart that thought it couldn't take the happiness of the holidays learned that the message of the holidays is about love, faith and family.

9 Comments to Home for the Holidays:

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Carol on Monday, December 10, 2012 3:01 PM
Such a touching holiday story and uplifting message for all holidays to come!!!
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Sam on Monday, December 10, 2012 10:17 PM
How well I remember that onion soup tour. Holidays are hard when family loses and gains. My father was here for his last Christmas on the planet. It was a tough time, but I am so glad he was here. We work hard to get everyone together and have been lucky so far. We hope it will work this year too. Plans are made, but weather could mess with things. This story of yours was wonderful. It started out slow and sad and romantic and ended with such an upbeat bang. Great.
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Sherrie on Monday, December 10, 2012 11:46 PM
I shared this heartfelt and beautiful message, calling you my dear writer in residence. I loved this piece.
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patty on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 2:33 PM
So touching - you are amazing and always see clearly what is important. xo
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