Life is unpredictable. One moment, things can be completely normal, and the next your life can be forever changed. It’s easy to focus on the things in life that we wish we had, but you may not have any control over whether or not you are able to actually get what you want. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we need to focus on what we do have. We all need a reminder once in a while that there are others who are less fortunate than us. They would give anything to have the things that we sometimes take for granted. This is a lesson that I didn’t learn until I suffered the greatest loss of my life… the loss of my mom.
I have been thinking about my mom a lot lately. I always think about her even more than usual during the holidays. The last Christmas I got to spend with my mom was 10 years ago. It’s hard to believe that it has already been that long. Christmas 2007 was the last Christmas that my family got to spend with my mom. We knew she wasn’t doing well and that she didn’t have much time left, so I think we all made sure to enjoy that Christmas a little more than we had before. What we didn’t know at that time was that Christmas would also be our last with our grandparents. My mom and both of her parents passed away within 10 months of each other in 2008. Needless to say, it was the worst year of my life.
The more I have thought about my mom lately, the more memories of past Christmases have come back to me. Every year, I looked forward all year long to spending Christmas Eve with my family. It was myself, my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, and nephews. The older we got, the busier everyone became throughout the year, so Christmas Eve was one of our few chances every year to get everyone together at the same time and just have fun. I looked forward to opening presents every year, but when I look back now, I remember very few of the presents I received. The memories that have stuck with me were just the memories of getting to spend quality time with my family.
When my mom passed away, all three of my brothers were married and had kids. My mom was the person who always really held my family together. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind when necessary. After we lost her, my family still got together on Christmas Eve, but it just never felt the same to me. Everyone had their own ideas for how we should celebrate Christmas, and I seemed to be one of the only people who wanted to keep our traditions exactly the same as they had been for as long as I could remember.
Over the next several years, Christmas started to feel more and more like just another day of the year to me. As much as I had always loved celebrating Christmas, it became a day where I started to look back every year and remember the great memories from the past, instead of creating new memories. To be perfectly honest, I started to feel like I was sitting there watching my family have their Christmas.
When I moved away, I attempted to revive some of the traditions that I loved while growing up, but it’s just not the same when you’re celebrating by yourself. Christmas 2015 was my first Christmas since I moved, and I spent it alone. I cooked a big meal for myself, drank wine, and watched TV. It was 86 degrees and sunny. Back home, that would be a hot summer day. In Florida, it’s just another day. Although I was happy to bring back some of the traditions I had been missing for the past few years, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just still didn’t feel special to me.
Last year, my dad flew down here to spend a few weeks with me. He was here for my graduation from Golf Academy, and he stayed through Christmas. Once again, I made sure we continued some of our old traditions that I had revived the previous year. Since it was my second Christmas in Florida, things started to feel a little more normal this time. My dad, however, had never experienced a Christmas without snow and freezing cold temperatures. He thought a hot, sunny day on Christmas was just weird. haha
This year, once again, my dad is down here visiting and spent Christmas with me. Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were lazy days for us. We ate way too much food, and just relaxed. While we were watching TV tonight, out of nowhere, it hit me that today had finally felt like Christmas to me once again. I wasn’t sure why, but something about today just felt different from the past 9 Christmases.
After giving it some thought, I realized that I was just happy to be spending Christmas with my dad. The rest of my family was 1,500 miles away, but I was enjoying a relaxing day with my dad.
For the past decade, I had been so focused on trying to keep things the way they had been in the past that I completely failed to just enjoy the moment. I failed to be happy with what I had. I do still wish Christmas could be the way it used to be, and I especially wish I could still celebrate Christmas with my mom, but life changes constantly. You can’t stop things from changing. You have to adapt and make the best of every day.
Hopefully someday I’ll have a family of my own, and I can continue some of my favorite childhood traditions with my wife and kids. Until then, I will cherish the new memories I get to create with the people who mean the most to me while still keeping those old memories alive.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!! I know that not everyone who may be reading this celebrates Christmas, but, whether you do or not, I hope you enjoyed a day filled with love, peace, and happiness. That is my wish for everyone, every day. Enjoy the great things you have in your life. Spread happiness to everyone around you. Love one another. 😀