Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Home for Christmas

For the first time since 2005, I’ll be at home for Christmas. Since Pete died in January 2006, I’ve been on a quest to outrun the evocative memories and emotions of the season, always his favorite and our family’s primary holiday.

Our plans never varied on Christmas. Guests were always welcome, but we stayed home, every year. Each Christmas Eve I would prepare lasagna and stash it in the fridge, to bake on Christmas Day when the company arrived. We always attended the earliest Christmas Eve Mass at our church so that we could spend a full evening with eggnog, gingerbread cookies, and the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

During the past three Christmases, my kids and I have been to Ireland, Chicago, and New York. They were all wonderfully festive journeys that allowed me to elude the innumerable traditions our family had lovingly constructed over twenty-five years.

But, sooner or later, it’s time to face the living room. This will be my year to do that. Fortunately, I’ll have the good company of my son, Matt, and daughter-in-law, Nicole. We’ve bought a tree, the first in four years, although it’s in the back yard; we’re still deciding the best time to decorate it. Tree trimming was always an elaborate ritual for our family, even after the kids were grown. We would coordinate schedules in early December until all of us could be together to spend a day or evening on the project.

Christmas almost here, and I’m gingerly feeling my way towards it. Not only is Pete long gone, but our daughter, Kristine, now lives in Boston and will be celebrating Christmas in her own new home.

Life is always changing, sometimes very painfully; but Christmas remains a constant light at year’s end. Somehow, I think I’ll be just fine.