Another holiday season is greeting front doors everywhere and gathering around Thanksgiving tables as done in Thanksgiving pasts will be families, friends and loved ones giving their heart-filled thanks for those seated beside them.
Families will share a meal over turkey, stuffing, candied yams, pumpkin pies and all the trimmings, and the bustle of life stops for a brief few hours when personal inventories are taken when you look around the crowded holiday room and remind yourself how blessed you truly are.
While a Hallmark Christmas card doesn’t quite paint the picture perfect family behind most front doors, mine included. The sentiment of the season though rises in the hearts of most who treasure family and its gatherings.
Holidays are also viewed though thru windows that peek into our family sadness when traditions change or grief and loss that overcomes with that empty seat at the dinner table for the first time this year.
For adults who remain “kids at heart” holding onto those family members who gave them their Norman Rockwell memories, it’s hard to turn the page to a new chapter of holiday traditions, when they cling to the old ones like a favorite teddy bear.
Holiday change is inevitable as our grandparents and parents age before us, passing the holiday torch to the next generation in their inability to keep the traditions going.
While this year isn’t a holiday first for our family, after finally disbursing the treasures of mother’s home though after being in storage for a year, the reality has finally sunk in that we as a family won’t be going “home” for Thanksgiving and Christmas anymore.
The face and heart behind our family Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions has had an address change needing twenty-four hour medical care, ending her reign as the author of our holiday picture albums.
As ‘tis the season of being thankful, this “kid at heart” takes ONE FINAL HOLIDAY WALK THRU of “home” during her Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations past.
At mother’s house you are always welcome.
Whether friend, family or stranger; announced or unannounced, mother lit up when the door bell rang.
Her humble home, a single wide trailer shared with her husband Roger until he passed away a few years before she closed the doors for good, was “home” nevertheless.
Every room spelled m-o-m as her touch was in the details of her things.
Family meant everything to mother, whose love had no bounds.
She adopted her daughter’s best friend as her own who in turn called her mom.
This friend with small children through their years into adulthood, referred to our mother as grandma.
We adopted into our hearts this friend’s parents who we loved deeply and embraced as nanny and papa.
Because of love, our family tree bloomed and thrived enlarging hearts and family ties.
Mother raised her children to love and serve God, the foundation that gave our family hope during those storms of hard times.
But it was during the holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas when going “home” re-opened the storybook of our childhood memories each year.
I still see dad watching the Macy’s Parade on TV in his recliner while mom prepared the turkey and all the fixins in the kitchen.
Like yesterday, I imagine the dinner table decorated and set in dad’s garage, seating all of us and our grandparents on both sides.
Growing up our Christmas tree wasn’t filled with expensive toys wrapped beneath it. With six children there wasn’t money enough for that; but there was so much more.
The traditions of a kitchen full of elves making various batches of homemade cookies with sprinkles landing everywhere.
There were those fifty-plus glittered Christmas cards we received in the mail and hung on a red chain down the railing of the stairs.
Sure can’t forget our church Christmas plays and getting that brown sack of miscellaneous nuts, fruits and holiday candy as you left the sanctuary.
Mother’s homemade coffee cake served warm on Christmas morning became a holiday favorite memory, a tradition I passed to my family.
The gift of Christmas around the tree with my four sisters, brother and parents was the best gift wrapped that day.
Thanksgiving and Christmas past replay in the back of my mind as this grown up kid enjoys the seasons of holidays when her children were small.
Holidays that replay in my mind with my adult children who now have children of their own.
Hearing the electric knife carving our holiday ham and turkey is the dinner bell reminder that a feast is about to be served.
For a family our size in a small single wide trailer, tables are set up in the kitchen, living room and bedrooms. There’s the senior table, the kid’s table and the table for everyone else. A bit crowded but you’re “home” and that’s all that matters.
So many faces to see during the holidays, some arriving when the military allows, or sadly arriving on Skype instead.
On Christmas Day there are all those presents to unwrap.
Then there are those hilarious relatives who never pay attention during gifts.
Can’t forget about that game of cards for anyone who dares to sit opposite a card-shark grandmother after dinner.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas though without that angel found sitting in her Lazyboy;
the centerpiece of our holidays.
Mother taught us how to make the holidays magical, and now our children are making the seasons bright in their own homes, all because our family matriarch had a special heart for Christmas.
Two years ago at this time, mother’s address changed as so did our holidays and traditions.
Holidays are now shared between the sisters with this year being at my house, and while we decorate, bake, serve the best feasts and still shuffle those cards after dinner, nothing comes close or compares to going “home” for the holidays.
Before handing over the keys of “home”, my heart needed ONE FINAL HOLIDAY WALK THRU of mother’s house.
Walking through the halls you were deafened by its silence. The walls were eerie quiet with nothing to say, when before the decibel level was joyfully loud.
Aching over the empty rooms I couldn’t imagine life without our family there to enjoy them.
How I wanted to set out mother’s Christmas decorations just one more time.
We as a family grieve over the empty chairs of loved ones we once shared the holidays with, whose health or life with Christ keeps them away. We miss them so terribly.
Sadly, mother’s “home” is all packed up now and the front door has closed for the very last time.
Something shifts when the tradition torch is passed to the next generation.
The magic and the memories remain in your heart, but a shift takes place and has to make room for the new traditions beyond the Christmas present.
My heart overflows with thankfulness nevertheless this Thanksgiving season with the joy of the Lord, as He is the source of all my true hope and love.
I am thankful for my memories.
I look forward to new traditions and memories also.
I am a blessed woman.
This Thanksgiving I will once again take inventory of all my blessings and rejoice for the riches of heaven in my home.
I pray that my mother’s holiday legacy lives on in my brother and sister’s lives as well as mine passed to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren and beyond.
May we all be thankful for what God has done and is still doing in our life.
May we remember and hold close to our heart the true
REASON FOR THE SEASON
Which is Christ Jesus our Lord.