Anyone who knows me knows how much I love this season. It's in my blood. I was born to it (Dad was Santa). I was raised in it (Mom made every Christmas wonderful). I'm happily a lifelong citizen of its spirit.
The first Christmas season without Dad, I thought I was holding up pretty well. Like I've said, memories of him are almost universally good, and the joy I feel around Christmas is indefatigable. I went about my business of shopping and wrapping and listening to my supersized playlist of holiday music on loop with light and love in my heart. And then around midnight on Christmas eve, I started to cry. And I didn't stop for two hours.
This is my first Christmas without Dad and Mom. And although Mom's Alzheimer's had long since quelled her holiday zeal, she still reveled in the pretty lights and snow and, most of all, family gathering.
Years ago (actually, many decades ago), Mom crocheted Santa pins for everyone. Every member of the family had one. Then, friends received them. Soon, they were sold at St. Luke's to raise money for the church. Then, Mom set up a craft table wherever Dad was selling his wood carved birds, and she sold the Santa pins along with other knitted goodies. I suspect there are several hundred siblings to my pin roaming the Northeastern U.S. I've worn mine every day of the holiday season every year since I was a kid. At one point recently, I glanced down at it and realized that it is a perfect encapsulation of both of my parents at the holidays. And that makes me happy and truly grateful to have been blessed with such wonderful parents.