Family: December brings with it joy, sadness, love and lots of memories

A long time ago when I was young like summer when it first comes around and the leaves are gentle and tender and new, my second child, a baby girl, was born.

She was a December baby.

And in that year and actually still, she truly is for me, the spirit of Christmas and my star on the tree.

Since that time, the family tree has grown, and a couple of those branches sprang forward with new life in December. Viola! Two grandchildren, a boy and a girl, also December children.

And, of course, they, too, for me, are the spirit of Christmas and the star on the tree.

It is quite fun to celebrate these December birthdays.

There is, of course, always the dilemma of gifts. All these birthday presents and then, a few days later, Christmas presents and then for the rest of the year, nothing.

How fair is that?

And then there is the wrapping paper. I don’t know how many times these December babies receive their presents wrapped in Christmas wrap.

I was thinking about how joyous it is to experience the joy of births in the month of December when we celebrate the age old Biblical story of the birth of baby Jesus in the manger.

It is easy to embrace Christmas then. It is so easy to relish all it has to offer; the fun, the parties, the festivities, the good food, the concerts and the music and all the other sweet moments in time that are there for each and every one of us.

Yes, it’s wonderful, isn’t it, when life hands us joy, gift wrapped and tied with pretty ribbons, to be opened in December.

But, even as the lights flicker their message of good cheer and happiness, we all know, only too well, that no one, even during the month of December is exempt from sadness, loss, worry and fear.

Just the other day I received a heartbreaking message from a very dear friend that her husband’s father had passed away.

The memories I had of this dear man immediately flashed through my mind and I also thought of the many times his son had sat at our table and recounted stories of his dad. I wonder if, perhaps, in the telling of those stories of courage and endurance and love, we were all made better people.

And, even as I joined the busy throng of shoppers at a gaily decorated mall, where Christmas fairly shouted from the roof tops, I felt the loss that family is now feeling, and silently mourned with them.

Not so many years ago, my beloved brother passed away just days before Christmas.

When I heard the news, my mind recoiled from the fact and my brain refused to accept the words as the truth. I was sure it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true.

My brother loved Christmas.

I remember him wanting to go out and look on the roof to see if Santa’s reindeer had left footprints.

Of course, he was much younger then. Well, actually not that much younger.

But, of course, the news of his death was true and, heartbreaking as it was, I needed to face the fact he would not live to see another Christmas. We had already lost one brother, whose birthday happened to be on Christmas Day.

Needless to say, it was a sad, sad time.

But every year as Christmas rolls around, memories of my brothers remain with me; simple, happy and good memories. You can’t buy those memories and you certainly can’t bring the people who live in them back, but still, you can make them come alive in your head. And you can smile, quietly, to yourself and no one will every know you are remembering a simple star made out of tinfoil and the boy who made it with you, or the absolute delight of having brothers around at Christmas to tease you and love you and make sure you believe in Santa for ever and ever.

And even though they are all gone now, perhaps it is because of them and the beautiful star we created so very long ago and the other memories we created when we were all but children that the magic and joy of the holiday season remains with me like a special gift that I can re-open every year.

And, I’m sure that it is because of them that I can truly share in the sadness and loss of those who are grieving, even as the Christmas bells ring out glad tidings of comfort and joy!

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