Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Star Up There

I have always been a firm believer in the one holiday at a time rule. I don't particularly like seeing Christmas decorations and gift wrap in the stores when I am out searching for the perfect pieces to our family's Halloween costumes. One holiday at a time. I always wait to put the Christmas decorations up at least a couple days after Thanksgiving. I don't even like to hear Christmas music on the store radios until the day after Thanksgiving - it kind of really bugs me. And I don't get bugged easily. Now don't get me wrong, once Thanksgiving is over, and we've enjoyed turkey leftovers for a few days, I am ready to listen to Christmas music 24/7 and start getting into the Christmas spirit.

Christmas has always been a magical time for me. My favorite time as a kid for sure. My mom always had the most beautiful decorations around  our 1200 square foot house. Garlands on the walls, adorned with lights and Mexican wicker ornaments, a natural straw color with red trim, alongside wooden nutcrackers with the string down the middle that raises the arms and legs when you pull down. Those were later replaced with shiny tin ornaments that we began to collect over the years, but I still remember how they looked. Thanks to my mom, the house always smelled of mulled cider, or posole, and tamales... so many tamales. Natan and I would have our Christmas Lists on the refrigerator by the first day of December, usually no more than a handful of things. As we go older, we added the word "MONEY" to the bottom of the list. I wonder when my kids will start doing that. I don't remember my parents ever doing any "Black Friday" shopping. Mom would purchase a special outfit or two for us, and Dad would be carefully shopping for all of us throughout the year - for a new book, and that one perfect gift. We usually got a couple small things, and one big present. It's all we needed. To be honest, I was more excited about the little things in the stockings than what was under the tree. Some Christmases were more plentiful than others, but never extravagant. The house was filled with the sounds of "A Music Box Christmas" - one of my favorite of daddy's purchases from Tower Records.

Last Christmas was the first without Dad. I don't remember much of it, to be honest. It was something we just needed to get through, I wanted to be strong for my mom, and luckily I had my kids to help me keep the magic of Christmas in me. I had a hard time even turning the Christmas music on this year. I just wasn't ready to face another one without him. The music fills me with great joy, yet so much sadness at the same time. All it takes is one freakin' song to set the tears free.

This one does it every time:

"The lake is frozen over
The trees are white with snow
And all around reminders of you
Are everywhere I go
It's late and morning's in no hurry
But sleep won't set me free
I lie awake and try to recall
How your body felt beside me
When silence gets too hard to handle
And the night too long
This is how I see you
In the snow on Christmas morning
Love and happiness surround you
As you throw your arms up to the sky
I keep this moment by and by
Oh I miss you now, my love
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas, my love
Sense of joy fills the air
And I daydream and I stare
Up at the tree and I see
Your star up there
This is how I see you
In the snow on Christmas morning
Love and happiness surround you
As you throw your arms up to the sky
I keep this moment by and by"

This was my "go-to-for-a-good-cry" Christmas Song, I discovered, when my Papa Ray had died in 2008. I was extra pregnant with Quincy, therefore fully-hormonal, and setting up the tree a week before Quincy was born. The song came on, right after Joni Mitchell's "The River", and I was a mess. Losing my grandpa was the first real loss I had as an adult. No one in my family had died since I was 12 before that, and when you're 12, it's sad, but the connection is definitely stronger the more years you put into it. So, every year from 2008 until 2015, the Christmas Blues were a reflection of my love for my grandfather, and they were an icy turquoise blue. Now, add the layer of sadness that is my dad's passing onto that, and my Christmas Blues are a deep midnight blue. But I cry because I loved. And I cry because it's my therapy. With every ornament I put on the tree, with every memory that is attached, I think of how they brought me joy, how much they added to my life, and how their love carries me. I will keep them alive by sharing those memories with my kids, while we create new memories as a family, as we learn how to celebrate in our new normal. But man, oh man, what I wouldn't give to feel my daddy's warm, soft bear hug just one more time.
That's my Christmas wish.

Here's some happiness...


The Superhero
The Villians
(Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Two Face)
We had a blast...
 and scored a lot of candy!


Thankful for family...


Wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season, filled with peace, love, joy, and all the wonderful memories that came before.