Black and green olives; Hershey’s Kisses in cross-stitched reindeer mouths; Christmas stories read in a deep, low voice; children reaching for presents, eager to give and receive; sleeping in the car, waking up just enough to wrap my arms around my father’s neck as he carried me inside; and unwrapping one present, just before climbing into bed.
Christmas Eves at my grandparent’s house were simultaneously a rather stressful event and one of the most calming and relaxing evenings of the year. This year the memories seem to be stronger. I’m overwhelmed by the memories of rural Arkansas, of family, of Christmas decorations, of playing Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, and of Christmas dinners with those powdery cookies filled with pecans, but mostly by the memories of hugs and smiles, of laughter and stories, and of songs played on the organ.
We had the last of these Christmas Eves several years ago. Since then all our lives have changed more than we could’ve imagined. Grandpatta passed away; Shawn and Christopher had another baby; Kelly finished school, got married, and moved to Mexico/Germany; Dad got a new job, and Mum travels with him; and I’ve finished school, moved to Missouri, and visited Europe a few times. Then Grandmomma started to lose her memory because of a medication she had been on.
I’ve never missed our silly traditions that came from being in a far-too-crowded home on the day before my favourite holiday so much. But this year and last year, I’ve not had anyone to do most of my traditions with, and it breaks my heart. I always knew my family would be spread across the world, but I had never thought about how that would affect the holidays, most specifically Christmas. This year has been a little easier to handle, but it’s also been the most difficult to plan and hasn’t felt like Christmas at all really. I found out on Christmas Eve that I’d be able to see my parents the next day and that we’d be going to visit Grandmomma, which helped it feel slightly more like the special day it is.
But nothing feels right without my sisters, who are currently in Florida and Germany. It’s been two years since I’ve spent a holiday with them (and since Kelly and Angél got married). And that was a dream. All our silly traditions with movies, food, and stories flood my memories. They bring tears of love—a love that could never be replaced or even matched.
I miss our Christmas traditions. But far more than that, I miss my sisters, and I dream of the time we will see each other again.
What’s something/someone you miss? What are some of your favourite Christmas traditions? Let me know in the comments below!