Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of year.
It doesn't seem like long ago that it really was the happiest time of the year for me. Excitement and magic filled the air, and the anticipation of Santa's arrival was almost too much to bear. My baby brother and I would sleep in his bedroom on Christmas eve and then wait (albeit impatiently) at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning for Mom to wind up the camera and take a photo of us in our PJs before we rushed in to see what Santa had left for us.
After opening our stockings and having a cup of tea, we'd wait until 7:00am to call Nanny and Papa next door to tell them we were up and ready to open our presents. It was tradition, and I loved it.
Now, though, Christmas just doesn't hold the same wonder. I've filled it with financial stress and worry, rushing through the motions, trying to remember where I stashed the presents for Mom and F, and of course making sure everything is just right. By the time Christmas day arrives, I can't wait for it to be over and that makes me just a little sad.
It's during this season of merriment and cheer that I find myself missing Papa the most. I miss his laugh, his mischevious grin and the way he talked about salt herring (his favourite meal) while sipping his Canadian Club and 7-Up at the Christmas dinner table. I miss my great-aunt Mayme and her husband, Doug, who always chimed in that turkey dinner was his favourite. This year, I'll miss J too. We spent the last four Christmases together, and this is just another "first" to get through without him.
I'm trying hard to get into the Christmas-y spirit and help F get excited. He has some idea about toys under the Christmas tree, but he's not totally into it yet. I have the NORAD Santa Tracker open on the computer, and we'll make some Gingerbread men later today. The Christmas tree in Mom's living room is beautiful, with gifts piled up and around it. Everything is decorated, and there's even a little bit of snow on the ground - just enough for "Santa to rest his runners on".
Tonight, I'll read in church and we'll come home and share the story of the Night Before Christmas, just like always. We'll open the rum and the wine and we'll all sit around the living room and I'll bask in the joy and love of being close to family, even if it's a little bittersweet.
I'm hoping the candlelit church service and snowflakes in the air can bring the Christmas spirit into my heart tonight, but I'm willing to bet the excitement dancing in F's eyes when he sees all the toys in his stocking tomorrow will inspire nothing shy of a Christmas miracle for this girl.