Wednesday, December 21

Holidays and Family: Sometimes It's Just Hard

My memories of Christmas as a kid are not great. My dad was an alcoholic. My mother was frustrated for that and other reasons. While I remember looking forward to Christmas, I also recall that moment of tension until it seemed to be all right. Dad hadn't made any mistakes. My sister and I had responded well to gifts. Mom was reasonably satisfied with her gifts.

That's not to say every Christmas was horrible. I remember the year my sister got her playhouse. Dad had been up until the wee hours finishing building it. It was big. Maybe 10' by 10' and big enough for us to stand it with windows that opened. It was quite a thing. It wasn't until much later I realized how much work it was and that my dad was a pretty good craftsman to have built it from scratch. I was excited for my sister as she followed the string outside to her playhouse, but then my folks had also gotten me a gold 3-speed Schwinn that was hidden behind the playhouse. Yea, that was a pretty good Christmas.

But the truth is that most holidays, and birthdays, at least in my recollection, were hard.

This Christmas is hard for different reasons. My dad has been gone for a while, my stepfather passed away this past June. My mother is in memory care.

Last week she had a bad incident with her blood pressure that landed her in the hospital. It's eerie that my stepfather's precipitous decline began with an incident with blood pressure.

My mother is back at the memory care facility and I've been able to see her a few times. She seems to fade more each day.

I think she recognized me but I don't think she really knows who I am.

Today she told me her heart is heavy. She is frail and so very weak. Every movement seems hard and painful though she moves little.

As I've told my family and some friends, as aggravating as she has been all of my life and as difficult as our relationship has been, it is still hard to see her this way.

In these moments, I can easily set aside the resentment and anger and frustration to wish her comfort and peace.

That is what I'd like to share. Yes, holidays and family can be hard for so very many reasons. Depending on your tradition and traditions, perhaps it's harder to transcend those emotional challenges. I hope you are able to do so.

I hope you are able to celebrate any moments of peace and joy.

I hope you are able to celebrate any moments of laughter and light.

Mom. I know you can't read this and I'm fairly certain you had trouble hearing me or even knowing me when I visited. Please know I wish you nothing but peace and light.

Blessings to you all, and best wishes for an amazingly wonderful 2017.

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