Although no one else in my family may remember that holiday season, I remember it quite clearly for two reasons: First, it was the only time I had ever seen my mother sicker than my dad. Secondly, it was the only Christmas that we spent so closely confined to one another.
My mom had just finished shopping for the last of the presents when my brother started getting sick. Not fearing that an impending Christmas 'disaster' was upon us, my mom tucked him into bed and kept at the holiday preparations. Within a day, we were all feeling so ill that we could barely get up. By Christmas morning we had passed through the worst of it, but we were nowhere near our usual festive mood.
The grandparents didn't come over that day, and I watched in awe as my dad prepared our holiday lunch - soup - as if I was seeing a true Christmas miracle. My mother was sitting back in the large easy chair in the basement as we unwrapped our presents, every single one of us huddled up into blankets to keep the chill off. To this day I can remember the sweet look of love that passed between my parents as my dad handed my mom a hot mug of soup. She wasn't at her best that day, but my dad's face said it all: she was his beautiful sweetheart. I never got that look out of my head, and I spent a good chunk of my adulthood searching for a husband who would look at me that way when I was down and out!
After we had settled into the most quiet Christmas-opening we would ever experience in that house, I realized that we were all snuggled up together. Everything was subdued, cozy, calm. The entire scene spoke of peace and tranquility, entirely the opposite for our usual happily-noisy selves. When we had finished opening the gifts, there wasn't much for us to do but settle into the rest of the afternoon, and we spent it watching Christmas movies together and looking through the 'bonus' gifts in our stockings.
I can remember every moment of that day; from what we watched, to the threadbare look of my mother's childhood Mickey Mouse blanket. The feeling I get when I recall that Christmas is one of pure love from beginning to end and I realize how very blessed I have been to have grown up in the family that I did.
This Christmas, think about what it really means to you, and to your family. The true meaning of Christmas is about love, peace, joy, and happiness. If we let the noise and bustle of the holiday season overtake us, and stress us out, we're losing out on the most wonderful part of Christmas that there can be.
So don't be afraid to take a few minutes for quiet this holiday season, whether you watch a movie or just tell one another that you are thankful to be a family - capture the peace of the moment together, and your Christmas will certainly be filled with love.
And from our family to yours... have a very Merry Christmas this year!
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