Wow. I had a feeling that this Christmas was going to be really great AND really hard, but I don't think I was prepared for how it is making me feel so joyful and yet so sad at the same time.
Today while Ella napped, James and I trimmed the tree that he and his Dad cut down yesterday. It is a sweet little tree--not really fat or tall--just a little unusual in that it has a lot of long branches as well as short. Meaning, that there were a lot of really great little nesting places for special ornaments.
I knew it was going to be a fun season this year--James is old enough to understand who Santa is, and yet young enough not to question how he actually can get down the chimney. Watching him pick and choose ornaments and their placement was so great.
But--this being the first Christmas without my mother, I am so sad. Sad for myself, my Dad, my sister, my Grandfather, my children, and for Mom. I heard a Gene Autry tune, "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" yesterday and nearly fell to my knees choking with an abrupt stab in my heart. She LOVED that song--I am pretty sure that we had a tape of just Gene Autry Christmas Carols.
I just have to keep telling myself, and believing that she hasn't missed a beat of the holiday so far. I mean, how could she miss these moments? The little hands working so hard to hand the precious ornaments; the little hands clutching the snow globe that she and Dad put together for him with a picture of him and his Dad in it; the little hands cutting out trees and snowmen with the vintage cookie cutters that she gave us . . . those moments keep happening every minute. She is everywhere I turn, every box I open, every carol I hum.
And yet--there is so much joy counterbalancing all that sadness. I spent way too much time trying to snap that perfect photo of James and Ella for our Christmas cards. I was laughing, remembering the struggle that my sister Amy and I went through last year for the holiday card.
When Ella woke from her nap today, and James and I had finished the tree, I brought her downstairs and set her down in front of it and the look in her eyes was awesome in the true meaning of the word. I mean, she saw the tree, REALLY SAW IT. The light coming from the old bubble lights that Dad gave us lit up her face, made her eyes sparkle, and my heart was bursting wide open with love, love, love.
So joyful our hearts will be this Christmas--sharing, loving, remembering, smiling, living. Each little moment captured forever on the film of our minds. The image of my son, standing in front of the tree and filled with so much little boy pride. Another amazing sight to see.
It will be a difficult holiday, for sure. But there are so many blessings, all around us, everywhere we turn. So much to be grateful for. So much to smile about. So much to BELIEVE IN. The power of Christmas, the joy of Christmas, the love of Christmas.