The Christmas tree is up, the wreath’s hung on the door, and we await the arrival of all the kids for the holiday season. I seem to be caught in the middle once again, bridging the generations, taking care of my mom in her foster care and her finances, taking care of my children who are finding their own way in this world, and helping my partner prepare for his mom’s options for long-term care. It would be great not to think about all those things.
In December, our home was filled with every possible Christmas paraphernalia my mom could get her hands on: santas in the windows, red gossamer ribbons knotted to the fridge, and presents. My parents lavished upon us multiple presents per child. I never knew until I was a teenager.
“Where’s everyone’s Christmas gifts?” I had asked my next-door neighbor when I went over to play after school. She told me she gets one present from her mom and dad each Christmas. One.
“Wow.” I think any response would have been inappropriate at that point. And it’s not that their family didn’t have money, they just had different priorities. Their family still travel once a year together. They still have their health. They all seem to have made their way though this world.
No, I’m definitely not encouraging anyone to be Scrooge this holiday season, but to consider the preciousness of the gifts we give and receive. Some things I’d like to give to my mom, like more time and good health, cannot be bought–even with my wallet filled with 25% off Macy’s coupons. There’s no Black Friday special for estranged family members to make amends and move forward in their relationships, and no Cyber Monday will bring back loved ones we wish we could spend one more holiday season with.
But I am hopeful for the holidays. I will still anticipate the smiles of surprises on the kids faces in the mornings, I will look forward to calling my mom and wishing her a Merry Christmas, and I am hopeful that all the ornaments and decorations will fit in the boxes marked “Christmas” and make their way down to storage in a timely manner.