Christmas is a time of making memories, of family gatherings, excited children, generosity and goodwill, old and new traditions, honoring faith.
And for the fortunate, this is all true. But it can also be a time of great sadness. Being separated from loved ones by distance, loss, or estrangement can be very difficult. Financial problems can seem overwhelming at this time of year. Being alone is especially painful during the holidays. Soldiers in a far off land, loved ones living far from home, being unemployed, sick, or homeless.
When my Dear Mother and Father were young, they lived through the Great Depression. At 5 years old, my sweet Father sold newspapers on the street corner. Christmas gifts were home-made.
My Mother rarely received Christmas gifts. One year she was given a gift. Bubble Bath. This sweet child had two dresses all through the school year. When one was washed, the other was worn. She went barefoot every summer, as she only had one pair of shoes for the year.
But my Father's memories of his childhood were so happy. They had virtually nothing, but they were together, they had a roof over their heads, they had a lot of love.
You don't have to be born into affluence to have a meaningful life.
My Mother's childhood was very challenging. Although she grew up in a lovely white farmhouse and her Father had a job during the Depression, they barely scraped by.
But they made the best of it. My Grandmother was determined. Her daughters grew up with the same determination.
During the Great Depression, when Hubby's father was a small boy, he gathered coal that fell off the railroad cars to bring home to his Mother. This was how they kept warm. Hubby's Grandfather died on Christmas day, falling off slippery steps.
But when our parents started families, they were determined to have a better life. They worked hard to give us wonderful Holidays and beautiful memories.
Each generation makes it easier for the next. Ideally.
Sometimes this isn't always the case. But with perseverence and resilience, you can look ahead to better days. This is a particularly harsh year for so many. People have lost their homes, their jobs. So many soldiers have died or been disabled. People are hungry and afraid. This is the time to remember those less fortunate.
When my husband and I were very young, we had left behind our family and friends to start a new life in a distant state. It was our first Christmas all alone. We knew few people beyond our fellow employees.
We were feeling a little sorry for ourselves. We were having breakfast in a local diner. We had a window seat. And as we sat there, feeling sad, we noticed something that changed our hearts. Out on the side of the road was a young family. A young man, woman and small child. They had on back packs. They looked cold and hungry. We looked at one another, warm, dry and full from our meal. We both had the same thought. But before we could act, the little family had hitched a ride. We couldn't offer them the meal, a little cash. They were gone.
We stopped feeling sorry for ourselves.
We made a generous donation to the little jar at the cash register.
And even though we were only one step removed from being that little family, we felt so fortunate. We had jobs, we had each other, we had a roof over our heads. Barely.
Now, all these years later, that little scene still tugs at our hearts. It reminded us to be grateful. To work hard. To follow the path to our dreams.
We created our own Christmas Memories. Honoring the past and the hard work of those before us. To make a better life for future generations.
We have so much. Love, a wonderful family, a cozy home.
I wish it could be true for everyone.
But we have also suffered loss, heartache, struggle. But that just makes us all the more grateful for what we have.
It keeps us humble. It keeps us from judging others. For aren't we all just one step away? One lay-off notice, one serious illness, one disaster away.
So while we celebrate this Holiday Season with Love and Laughter, we also remember those less fortunate.
We remember what this Holiday stands for, why it is celebrated. And we honor those that have gone before us, making the road a little easier for future generations.
Making Precious Memories in the True Spirit of Christmas