The Christmas holidays have always been a special time, just as every other holiday throughout the year. The one constant with every holiday is family. Our own personal level of enjoyment changes as we grow up. As children, we enjoy the mystery of Santa Claus and the excitement of opening presents. As teenagers, the gifts may change from toys to cool gadgets and clothes. When we are grown and there are no more little children to spoil and no more little smiley faces to light up the room, the gifts don't matter as much. Family is what matters. Whether you live close and spend every holiday and most other days with your family, or if you live far away and only see them a few times a year, the holidays are always special when you are with family.
Everyone's family has a certain level of dysfunction and mine is no different. But I love them all the same. I left my home town, and my family, more than 15 years ago. I have traveled the world and have lived in many different places. I do make it back home from time to time...maybe not often enough. My family and I may not know each other as well as most, but that doesn't mean I love them any less. Knowing they are there for me...for each other...can be comforting.
This year's Christmas was going to be special. You see, my family was planning a big Christmas party and we were going to gather all of the family that we could and celebrate with my grandfather one last time. My grandfather, if you've been following, is the 94 year old Pearl Harbor Survivor that I wrote about earlier this month. The plans were in place. I was coming home. My aunt was coming from New York. It was going to be great... Only my grandfather didn't make it. He passed away the weekend before Christmas. (If you'd like, read this article about him in the local newspaper). He went quickly and painlessly from what I was told. He has been finally reunited with his wife, who left him 12 years before. While his passing is sad, I am happy for him. He is a hero, a local celebrity, and an important part of our family...an important part of my life. He has lived a very long and full life. Hell, I hope I live to be 94 and be as capable as he was at that age. So my family's Christmas plans had changed, but we were still together. I had the honor and privilege of being a pall bearer. My brother and I, both military veterans, folded the American flag that was draped over our grandfather's casket and then I presented it to my dad. A moving moment to say the least and probably the most emotion I saw out of my dad. The holidays continued only with one less seat at the table, but we were still together.
Whether your family is close or if they have drifted apart, enjoy the time you do have together. Cherish those moments. Make efforts to connect with new family members or reconnect with those you've lost touch with, even if it's only for a few minutes. Put aside your differences and any negativity and enjoy each other. You never know when that holiday might be the last one with them.