Monday, January 20, 2014

Whew! The Holidays Are Over or Dickens Is Rolling In His Grave

I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge this year. It is not that I don't like Christmas, I do  and it is a good thing because my family tends to stretch it out until the middle of January. We start on Christmas Eve and end with the Fiesta for the Infant Jesus of Cebu.

I felt like Scrooge because of the ghosts. I knew this Christmas was going to be difficult with my husband's death shortly before Thanksgiving, but I did not expect to visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet to come.

 When I went to midnight mass I had a hard time concentrating on the service because I kept remembering years past. I remember the year we got engaged and how happy we were, singing "Joyful, Joyful we adore thee," at the top of our lungs because we were bursting with heartfelt joy. Then I remembered last year; we were separated and still angry with one another, but the two of us made time to go "sneaking" (the three of us flattened ourselves against the walls of the sanctuary and scoot around the room) with the Bumper.  It was with a pang I realized that was the first and last time the three of us would ever do that, so in commemoration after Mass I went "sneaking".
On Christmas day we went to a Christmas brunch where the Bumper was showered in gifts, and go to play with some children her own age. Afterwards we went back to Nana's house where the Bumper's paternal grandparents came over and her even more gifts, the Bumper and I have been quite overwhelmed by all this generosity. Yet in the middle of the happiness, I was ill at ease waiting for the moment when the Bumper asked to see her dad. When that moment came, none of us present knew what to say and instead chose the diversionary tactic of a tea party with Grandpa.

As we headed into the New Year, I began to understand that I was going to have to create new holiday traditions with the Bumper, one of those traditions will be visiting with my sister on the day after Christmas, but I am not quite sure how to incorporate all of the Bumper's dad's family. Another new tradition may be opening family gifts on Epiphany.

The next few weeks were taken over by dance practice for the fiesta. The fiesta is a Filipino custom that is part party, part cultural showcase and part religious devotion, and although my family is not Filipino we have been adopted by the community. This was Marie's first year dancing and she did not quite have the hang of all the steps, but she sure had fun! As I watched her my fists instinct was to to share the pictures I took with her dad, but he is no longer there. Instead I have been sharing the pictures with as many friends and relatives as possible.

The Holiday season was good because I was able to connect the Bumper with some of her dad's family, and take pleasure in her delight in everything. Yet at the same time it was hard because I was, and still am, grieving. As I stood in front of the Nativity at our church I thought about that first Christmas so long ago: Mary and Joseph were far away from family and the comforts of home, the were most likely scared and lonely, yet they had faith in God's plan and they persevered. Even the great event of the birth of the Savior was tinged with sorrow. I am comforted by that, knowing it is okay for me to be sad as well joyful. I also have faith in God's plan and I too will persevere.


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