It didn't always used to be this way. I have wonderful memories of childhood Christmas, the smell of evergreen, the lights on the tree like tiny stars tucked into the branches, presents wrapped up with wonderful surprises inside. There were carols sung by the Vienna Boy's choir and star shaped cinnamon cookies.
Some wonderful things have happened to me in this season. My husband asked me to marry him one Christmas Eve, and a year later we were married in December. And a few years afterward, our eldest son was born three weeks before the holiday.
But these wonderful memories are mitigated by painful times. My husband's father, dear to both of us, died not long before Christmas. A few years later, my own father passed away quite suddenly, a week before he was to come and stay with us to celebrate the season. Then there was the dreadful year when my younger son, at six weeks old, had to be hospitalized for pneumonia on Christmas Eve. My mother had died a few months earlier, and so my first Christmas without her was spent watching over my baby as he lay struggling for breath in an oxygen tent.
The season, I suppose, is a microcosm of life. All of us have sorrows and joys. Sometimes our days are infused with magic and sometimes our nights are so dark we cannot see our way forward. For me, Christmas is a time of remembrance. Flickers of the past cast a long shadow, but also there is light. This year will mark my first Christmas as a grandmother. My children will all be home again. The house will smell of evergreen and the lights twinkling on the tree will be magical. I'll play that old CD, the Vienna Boy's choir singing Silent Night.
On these, the darkest nights of the year, it is love that illuminates the spirit. May your heart and home be full of light.