Santa Claus is coming to town was always the last song we sang at my elementary school Christmas concerts. Girls dressed in their best dresses and little boys in shirts and ties, we excitedly sang our hearts out waiting to see my cousin Merrill come around the corner dressed as Old Saint Nick. Ringing his jingle bells and ho ho hoing, he’d take a seat and we’d line up to receive our gift.
One year before the Christmas concert, my parents gave me a ring with my birthstone inside – the first ring my Dad had ever given my Mom. I still remember proudly wearing it on my right hand, all gold and shiny and glistening. I remember how easy it all felt.
I didn’t realize then that the meaning of Christmas would change so much, that the emotions could take such a turn. What was once excitement becomes anxiousness; what was sheer joy becomes grief; sometimes, not even the turkey can fill us. Christmas is touted as the happiest time of the year, but for many – perhaps even for you – it can be the saddest.
I love spending time with family at Christmas. To see Finley open gifts, to watch the joy and wonder come over his face as he sees all Santa’s brought for him. I love watching Mom and Dad turn over their gifts, seeing my Nanny eat that third piece of dessert that she knows she shouldn’t eat. I love watching Uncle Allan and Aunt Cheryl joke lovingly with one another, and the sound of Christmas carols in the sanctuary on Christmas Eve. I love Christmas.
But I miss loved ones who aren’t with me this year. I miss the smell of Papa’s aftershave, and Uncle Doug’s bad jokes. In the midst of celebrating, I miss them. And that’s OK.
In my own little sleigh (aka the Elantra), I’ll be racing Santa’s reindeers to make it to Cape Breton to see my sweet, little elf in a few days. In a few short days, I’ll be making memories to reflect on in years to come and that is what Christmas is about.