Last night, as I sat in the glow of the lights on the Christmas tree, I felt the overwhelming sadness of missing those we cannot be near this Christmas.

“Buck up, Louise,” my inner critic said in a jolly voice. “It’s not that bad. At least it looks like it will be a white Christmas.”

“Small consolation,” I hiss back. “We’ll be all alone. Nobody in our home when Christmas dinner calls us to the table.”

I’m never sure why I feel the need to speak in rhymes to my inner critic (badly I might add) Perhaps it is to disarm him.

“Nope,” the critic says. “It’s to distract yourself. You don’t know how to handle feeling sad, so you avoid it.”

Seriously? You sound like my mother.

Oh, not the one I spent my life trying to understand. That mother took her last breath in February. A sweet, tiny, sparrow-like woman whose arthritic fingers floated up to touch the faces of her daughters and granddaughters who had gathered around her bed to say good-bye.

We could do that still, in late February. Gather with those we love to say farewell. Sit in a circle around her bed, close together, heads bowed, holding each other’s hands, as we said a prayer for this, the final leg of her journey.  

That mother, who bid her farewells in February was often a mystery to me. Full of contradictions and insecurities. I sometimes, unkindly, called her needy.

 This one, the one who comes to visit me now from someplace on the other side, is full of understanding and wisdom. She laughs and drinks martinis and wears too much perfume and too much jewellery. She doesn’t seem to care. She’s having the time of her life in the afterlife she says.

In her aura, I no longer yearn for the mother of my dreams. I simply yearn for her to keep visiting.

And then I realize he is. Her. My inner critic is my mother’s voice. But this time, she’s not visiting me while I’m in the bath, as is her custom. She’s here, beside the Christmas tree where I sit feeling the melancholy of the hour before midnight and the sadness of this season of joy that will be spent alone.  

My mother loved Christmas. She would spend hours decorating, baking, gift-buying and wrapping. From the man at the counter of the store where she normally shopped, to the woman who cut her hair, to the son of the son of the woman who cut her hair. My mother gave to everyone.

It was her way.

The gifts under our tree this year are sparse. Most were ordered online and sent directly to their recipients to avoid physical contact.

And my mother’s voice breaks into my reverie.

“It’s still Christmas Louise. A time to join the triumph of the skies and proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

“Since when do you quote Christmas carols?” I ask this unseen presence who sounds like my mother’s voice but doesn’t speak like her at all.

“Since you keep slipping into melancholy instead of Christmas cheer,” my mother’s voice says. “You love Christmas carols. Remember when your girls were little and you’d organize a carolling party and all your friends would come and you would wander the neighbourhood singing at the top of your lungs?”

And I smile and remember. Yes. That was such a good time. Full of laughter and friendship and children’s voices giggling while we parents struggled to carry a tune that nobody cared about anyway. It was the feeling of being together, of being connected that made it all so special.

And I sigh.

“We don’t have those connections this year, mum,” I say to this woman whom I cannot see but whose presence feels so real to me.

“True,” she says. “But it doesn’t mean those days are gone forever. And it definitely doesn’t mean those feelings of connection and belonging aren’t still alive. You just have to work harder to feel them. Use your creativity Louise. You’re good at that.”

And I smile in the silent night. My mother’s voice drifts away and I sit and watch the Christmas lights glow with the promise of a most Holy Night.

Christmas this year can’t be like Christmases past.

But it can still be full of those feelings and sensations I love so much. Of being connected. Immersed in love and joy. Of being part of something magical and mysterious and miraculous.

If it is to be, it is up to me.

Quietly, I turn off the Christmas tree lights. Let Beaumont out for one last romp in the now snow covered earth and then climb into bed beside my beloved who is already fast asleep.

I close my eyes and say a prayer of gratitude. For my beloved sleeping beside me. For my mother who visits me now so I can know peace. For this life I live that is so full of joy and for all those who make it a beautiful tapestry of family and friendship woven together with Love.

We may not be gathered around a crowded Christmas table laden with the food we all prepared, but we will be gathered together in our hearts. And in our hearts, there is only room for one thing. Love.

Always and forever.

24 thoughts on “

  1. LG, it’s all about perspective is it not?

    Last Saturday at my Zoom-meeting Toastmasters Club, we were all speaking about our favorite holiday dishes, and most members spoke about what they enjoy for Christmas eve or Christmas day dining.

    One member spoke of having Christmas last year with two of his buddies – they had McDonald’s burgers. His friends are away this year, so he expects to have his Mcdonald’s burger alone.

    That hit me, as I’m sure it did for others – because we take for granted the sumptuous meals around a noisy table with friends and family.

    The truth is, for many, they don’t have that in their lives. And we presume everyone wants it – as I expect most people do. And some, we should allow, might not care.

    It’s not about COVID, it’s about perspective and empathy for those who have so little when we have so much. And deeper, it’s not about the food, it’s about the company – or lack of it, that hits us most.

    I’ll be alone, as will so many, this year. While I was planning to roast that small turkey in my freezer, I’m vacillating – I think I might pick up something at Mcdonald’s.

    Happy ho+ho to you and yours,

    Mark

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Such a beautiful share Mark. Thank you.

    C.C. and I are cooking a turkey with stuffing and carrots. We’ll parcel it up into 3 portions, meet on my daughter’s driveway with my sister and her husband. My daughter and her partner are preparing the brussel sprouts. My sister, the masked potatoes. With social distance consciousness we’ll put our parcels on the ground, step back and then, one by one, step back in to pick up our portions.

    We’ll all be eating the same meal, prepared with love, just at different tables. Except my daughter in YVR who, along with her husband decided to savour time with their two young children in front of the tree and order in their favourite Indian food for dinner Christmas day.

    We’ll have a family Zoom-in. We’ll laugh and share.

    It will be different. And it will still be filled with love.

    Many hugs Mark. All the merriest of Ho!Ho!s to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Christmas is not going to be the same as last year – for nobody. Around this time, my youngest sister had been treated with breast cancer, 17 yrs ago, one year nearly to the day after my middle sis had the same operation. This year, the youngest one is in hospital again, for the 3rd time in as many months, Christmas for her will not take place. Our very aged mothers will spend it in quarantine, each in her senior care home…. We will have guests every day from the 25th onwards, We gather friends and family members who are alone and feed them. But it will be Christmas all the same. We ‘just’ have to have Christmas in our hearts…. it amazingly works. And as of today the days are already getting longer, minute by minute. THAT’s something to look forward to! Love and greetings from across the waters, K

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true dear Kiki — Christmas, the spirit of it, the light, the joy, the loy, it lives in our hearts and that is such a beautiful feeling.

      It snowed — massive amounts last night and today the world is pristine white and beautiful. Beaumont and I just got back from a walk — it was quite a trudge – and the park along the river was simply glorious!

      I am so very sorry to read about your sister. I shall include her in my prayers and may healing light surround her and keep her and you and all your family safe.

      Much, much love my friend. So grateful for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh the voice of grumpy in my head belongs straight to me. I’m working my way around to perspective. I know it’s there but for just right now I want to wallow a bit. I see you popped yourself back out of it so well done! Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You made me smile with your ‘voice of grumpy’ Bernie. I find the perspective comes in waves. A bit of wallowing. A bit of okayedness. and back and forth she goes!

      Merry Christmas to you too Bernie — may whatever your celebrations look like bring you great joy and comfort. ❤

      Like

  5. Yes, this year will be remembered for a long time. Some put on the Christmas stuff early to bring in much needed joy; some chose not to decorate at all, feeling there was no point. I think we are all doing what works for us. No way we could have imagined this. Ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m in the middle… we put up a tree — not as big as normal but not as tiny as my beloved had thought.. 🙂 And, once I strung lights on the deck and we gathered with our two adult children and their partners to decorate the trees outside, I began to feel the ‘spirit of the season’. As I mentioned to Bernie — it does come in waves, the ennui sometimes slips in and I must once again remember to breathe, come into the present moment and find my peace of mind and holiday spirit again.

      Hugs Dale. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I feel you. I always wait until the day after Mick’s birthday to put up the tree (so it goes up the 19th) even though, while growing up, we put it up the 24th! I stopped putting lights up outside after Mick died. It was his thing. I don’t know. Maybe when I feel this house is more of a home than it is, I’ll start doing things like that again for me.
        My kids and I are going to go to my mother’s (illegally 😉 ) on Christmas Eve. My eldest is making them a beef wellington to celebrate.
        I feel you about the ennui coming in waves. It’s been coming in waves for years for me.

        Lotsa love to you and yours for this crazy and weird Christmas. xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

      • I asked my mother what she was doing Christmas Eve and she made this sarcastic sound meaning “What the hell do you think I’m doing? A whole lotta nuthin’!” So she was rather surprised to find out she was booked…
        And yeah. It’s a year challenging us to look in and make necessary (if any) changes!

        Like

      • How wonderful that you can bring her some delight on Christmas Eve Dale.
        LOL — there’s always ‘change’ required. It just depends how soul-inspired the changes are. ❤

        Merry Christmas Eve my friend.

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