Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ghosts Of Christmas Past, Present, And Future

So Christmas is all over and I am once again safe and sound back in Chicago - just in time to celebrate another New Year's Eve with The BF. Come to think of it, it's been ages since I celebrated two NYEve's in a row with the same person. It's gonna be fun.

I journeyed home for a few days to be with the family. It was a bittersweet trip as I could really see time taking it's toll on some of my older relatives. Ever since I can remember, on Christmas Day we all travel to my Aunt Susie and Uncle Bill's house. They put out a pretty large spread of food and we all gather to eat and talk - what my family does best. On Christmas Eve, Susie and Bill celebrated their 59th Wedding Anniversary. My aunt is 78 years old, and she admitted to me that for the first time, this Christmas Day was a pinch more than she could handle (my uncle is 83 and has been in failing health for a few years). It was nice, as always, to be in their home, however I couldn't help but wonder if this would be the last time Christmas Day would be hosted by them.

It panics me slightly to see them age. These two have been heroes of mine since childhood; generous, thoughtful, and loving people who opened their home and their hearts to everyone they knew. Uncle Bill taught me to ride a bicycle. Aunt Susie introduced me to Sinatra. I sang in their daughter's wedding and hosted their 50th Anniversary Dinner Party. I have 40 years of memories with these two people, who were more like an extra set of grandparents than an aunt and uncle. And with each trip back home, I can see them both becoming more frail. And it breaks my heart each time.

It was hard not to realize that there would not be too many more Christmases with everyone together. My family has been lucky in that we have all stayed relatively healthy for many years. The last funeral we experienced was an uncle passing in 1991. My mom's 7 brothers and sisters are now in their 60's and 70's, and my sister and I understood that beginning soon, we will be saying goodbye to each of them one by one.

But as sad as this thought is, it also made me appreciate my time at home more. And it caused me to reflect on the wonderful life I had as a kid, and the friends these people became as an adult. This Christmas perhaps has meant more than Christmases past, and will be reflected upon in Christmases future.
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