I've been missing you so much today. It's now been 11 years since your passing. I know it wasn't your choice, but I still wonder why you had to leave us. And especially at Christmas time...a time of joy... a time of magic...a time of laughter, and love, and family togetherness. Why did you have to leave at your (and my) very favorite time of year (making it now one of the hardest and most painful seasons)? And why, with your passing, did the magic of Christmas have to go away too? Now with the Christmas joys, come also the Christmas pains. The memories of you being sick, and then of your death, your funeral two days before Christmas, and that first quiet and solemn Christmas Eve without you. The things that made me the happiest when you were here, are sadly, the very things that now make me hurt...because everything reminds me of you and the fact that you're no longer here.
I felt so bad today. John came home from work, and it was obvious that I had been having a lousy day. I was feeling pretty down. He asked me what was wrong, and I just blurted out, "I hate Christmas". (I really didn't mean it. I was just missing you a lot, and feeling really overwhelmed by everything I had to get done. Just dealing with the typical hustle and bussel of the season had been wearing on me.) Anyway, after I had declared my disinclination for the holiday, sweet little Ruby, who happened to be in hearing range, said "But I LOVE Christmas!" I felt so bad that I had so distastefully, and without consideration, repeated something like that in front of my two year old.
A few weeks ago, we taught her to sing Jingle Bells. It's the cutest things to hear because instead of singing jingle bells, she sings "jinger bells". If only you were here to watch her grow up and witness her cuteness...it would literally melt your heart. She got in trouble today. She told me a lie. I told her that Santa wouldn't be leaving her any gifts if she couldn't tell the truth, and to that she responded, "Merry Christmas, Mom!" I couldn't help but smile.
As a parent, I'm realizing that not many things bring more joy and excitement, than witnessing the joy and excitement of our own children. But of course, I didn't have to tell you that.
We put together a candy gingerbread house tonight, and although the end result was far from pretty, the joy was found in the process. Watching Ruby eat the candies and bubble gum before the house was even erected; and then seeing her lick away the frosting before we were able to stick any candy into it. She was in kid heaven, and that made me happy...even though she ran off, leaving me to finish the house all on my own.
We were at the store the other day, and had stopped in front of a Christmas display so that she could see the blow up Santa and reindeer that hung from the ceiling. An older gentleman had been watching us from a distance, and then approached me to say that as he watched Ruby's wonderment over the lights, and the trees, and of course, the blow up Santa, (who, in her mind, was the real deal), he suddenly felt like 50 years had been knocked from his life. "Enjoy these moments", he told me, "they'll be gone before you know it". I'm sure you understand all too well what he was talking about.
I suppose that the magic of all the Christmases spent with you will hereafter rehabilitate through watching my children. Watching them wait excitedly in line to sit on Santa's lap. Watching them gaze with wonder at the Christmas lights. Watching them as they put their favorite little ornaments on the Christmas tree. Hearing them sing their newly learned Christmas songs. Enjoying their company as they help with the holiday baking. Seeing them in their new Christmas pajamas. Watching them tear into their presents on Christmas morning...
Listening as she makes up her own lyrics to Jingle Bells. Watching her decorate her very first Christmas sugar cookie...(boy does that girl LOVE the sprinkles.) Hearing a "crunch" as she takes a bite into a mini glass bulb ornament, mistaking it for a piece of candy. Watching her scream while on Santa's lap. Witnessing her depict Mary in the Nativity...(although I doubt that Mary actually left Joseph and the baby Jesus at the manger so that she could join the choir of angels. And I don't think that Mary placed the wise man's very special gift to the Christ Child - on Joseph's head. And it seems very unlike the mother of the Savior to get down on the ground, just moment's after singing Silent Night, and attempt a somersault.
I'm discovering that these are the things that will eventually restore that magical Christmasy feeling once again into my heart and soul...I just wish you were here to experience and enjoy it all with me.
I want you to know that I am so grateful for all the wonderful and magical Christmases we spent together. I'm grateful for your Christmas passion and exuberance. I'm grateful for the Christmas traditions that you and dad started with our family. I'm grateful for the countless trips to see Santa, and for the times we went caroling, and for the outings to see the lights at temple square, and for all the hours we spent at the local tree lot...picking out the perfect tree for our home, and for the holiday baking, and for your Christmas stories, and for all the wondrous Christmas mornings...and how our family room was always brimming with gifts...and how your face was always beaming.
But mostly, I'm grateful for your testimony. I'm grateful for your passion and devotion and love for the Savior. I'm grateful that you never ceased - even amidst all of our fun, secular, Christmas activities - to teach us about Him...for that's truly where the magic of Christmas can be found. If we find our Savior, then we've found the magic. Of course, you had that figured out years ago. Thank you for sharing the magic with your children. I can't wait to share it with mine.
I love you - always and forever...and as always, am missing you.
Your devout daughter,
Thursday, December 18, 2008