Saturday, October 02, 2021

A Christmas Door Closes

On a recent trip back to Old Home and The Ranch, my sister and I were carrying on what has become our normal series of various conversational topics to catch up on events since my last visit back.  This time, as we were chatting about this and that - our standard conversation always starts, of course, with "How are TB The Elder and Mom?" followed by "What escapades has the insurance company tried this time?" - when she mentioned in passing that she and her family would be spending Christmas abroad this year.

Ah, I thought to myself. That was the end.

Certainly we have not always spent Christmas together once we relocated and so this is not the first time this would have happened - we were back (overall) more often than not, but not always, flight costs being what they were and spending two long days (or three reasonable days) driving out each way essentially consumed a week of whatever break we had.  And even last Christmas was not like it had been in years past:  looming over everything was the downtick in my Father's health that was leading where I think we all knew it what leading and due to The Plague, there was no larger family gathering for Christmas brunch (honestly, it was the reason that I insisted we come out here, even though it was not for long and not at all like Christmas' past.  Even I sensed it was going to be the last one of its kind).

Still, the words of my sister put a certain finality on things - not that I blame them of course:  there is not real reason to not go out and do something with her family.  My parents will literally not know the difference.  And we were already effectively planning to stay at New Home this Christmas for effectively the same reason (and, frankly, the fact that boarding animals becomes its own form of airline ticket itself).  

Still, it was door closing to the past, a door that I will not see opened in that fashion in my lifetime.

If I really wanted to look at it, Christmas 2019 was the last time we were all together as a larger family unit.  Aunt J was still alive and we had Christmas Brunch at my Aunt and Uncle's (who currently live in the original Ranch house) in the morning as we had done for years after opening presents at my parents and waiting for my sister's family to come up.  My father was still of sound mind and my mother's memory was better than what it had become.   All of us were together except for one of my cousins who live in The Very Big City and who never comes out to visit.  That I recall, it was a very ordinary Christmas brunch, the kind we had enjoyed for years.

How surprising - and in a meaningful way, how full of pathos - to realize that it was the last one of its kind.

I will be out for my once a month visit in December as I have been for over a year now and I am sure I will see my parents.  Their living space will probably be decorated for Christmas.  And I will stop by and see my Aunt and Uncle and certainly see my sister and brother in law, and perhaps exchange gifts to be ported back. And come Christmas Day, we will all text each other seasonal greetings and such as this is the way things are done now.

Even with all of the realization that time does indeed move on, I must confess I am a little bereft.  Reality comes at us more quickly than we can imagine.

12 comments:

  1. Christmas is one of the worst days of the year for us and has been for some time. I can see why tempers flare, suicides skyrocket, and anxiety grips and rips at people. The pressure to be a normal, happy family is completely at odds in today’s world of multiple genders, multiple identities, competing world views and growing intolerance and militance. The COVID nonsense is going to push some folks over the edge too.

    Bah, humbug. Other than my spiritual devotionals it’s just another day. Just make a point of getting together with Sis another time, TB. Don’t let that slide, either - that’s an order.
    😉

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    1. Glen, in that sense we were fortunate - although I will say that I think that (American) Thanksgiving was that for our family, perhaps just as much from the fact that other than eating and watching football, there is little enough to do except talk. And that, as you say, can go badly indeed.

      We may indeed have to look for another time as you suggest - although I suspect it will be something even less complex as in turn both ours and their children go out and have families and their own gatherings. Sigh. Such is life.

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    2. Well that's good TB. The kids have their own lives, and their own priorities... and we get left behind to make the best of what's left of ours. We had our time, they are having theirs... and that's all that counts I guess. But jeez... it sure is hard to wrap your head around. It kinda makes me aware of my exact place in the universe and my priority within it. It is something to be reckoned with and no bones about it. All ya can do is stay positive if you can and catch up when you can.

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    3. It is hard to wrap my head around, Glen. The last two years, starting with the job change and then coming out here regularly and then my parents, has completely upended my heretofore rather staid life.

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  2. The Christmas after mom passed was one of the bleakest days I've lived through. We tried, dad tried, but it was just a sad, gray day. We stopped the 14 hour trip the next year and stayed home to develop new traditions with our young kids.

    I can understand the change, and I know the empty heartache that wraps it. Life is change. Better to accept it and work on new traditions, than pine for what is gone. Remember it, maybe even incorporate some of it into the new traditions, but don't cling to it like it is holy.

    I may have to call Glen on Christmas day, just to wart him a bit. I wonder what his reaction will be? hehehe.....

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    1. STxAR - I completely understand. We had two such events: the first after my maternal grandmother passed away, the second a few years after my maternal grandfather passed away and my Aunt J tried having a Christmas Eve at their house per what she remembered her Christmas Eves being like. The second one was especially painful, as she had only been coming up periodically to their house and thus it was somewhat stale and still just as they had left it.

      So new traditions it is - and for us, double new traditions as we are in the midst of a change in our own living situation that will likely see one or more of Na Clann away during the holidays in the near future; indeed, this may be the last Christmas for a bit all of us are together.

      Glen is a loveable curmudgeon.

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  3. Yes the changes in Christmas gatherings is not fun. I have been through 4. When the grandparents died. When mom died. When Dad died. When the in-laws died. Thankfully my wife had our own family traditions going and that's helped but will change after January next year when my Daughter gets married. It won't be the same except for the one most forgotten reason. The reason for the season. May God Bless us all. Thank you for what you do.

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    1. BCCL - I have been through at least 2.5 of those transitions, grandparents and then parents (who are not yet passed, but it will still not be the same). Living away as we do, we have as often not spent Christmas with the in-laws as we have. We have our own but as you say, these too will transition.

      Except for, as you say, the most forgotten reason.

      Thank you so much for posting.

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  4. Indeed, it is not an easy thing to let go of old traditions, and there is a good deal of sadness in the changes forced on us. But as STxAR says, time to forge new traditions. May you be surprised one day to have grandchildren to indulge.
    My family used to have a Christmas reunion, but with my eight siblings developing families of their own, it became too much for my parents one house to handle. We resolved the issue by having a summer reunion campout. It too became a tradition, and we had 26 of them. Mother passed five years ago, and reunions 25 and 26 with Dad were good, but we knew that change was upon us. We are old enough now ourselves that most of us have grandchildren; my wife and I have a great grandchild now, and our own reunions are becoming a new thing.

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    1. Greg, thank you very much and that sounds like a wonderful new tradition. But yes, even then different traditions must be put in place.

      Even post Christmas for my family, the Christmas family reunions were replaced by summer family reunions which my Great Aunts ran and then my mother ran for many years. I think they ended in the early 201X's when the last Great Aunt had passed on

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  5. Although a bit nostalgic for a newly shut door, I never rue them for long. I always look ahead for the new door that opened as a result. I'm not sure I'll celebrate Christmas like we did in the past when my mom and grandfather were alive. But because that door closed, we now have the opportunity to explore other avenues that might create new traditions that one day will close for our children. The optimist in me leaking out I guess.

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    1. It is fair, Ed - and certainly my sister and her family have moved on through that door. I suppose to fair I should have as well, as it was pretty clear even last year that this was likely the last such Christmas. I do tend to maunder in the past, it seems.

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