Most people I know equate the winter holidays with family gatherings.  It’s the one time in the year that everyone is supposed to get along, visit, and catch-up on all the family news.  There is supposed to be good will, happiness, joy and cheer throughout the season.  Right?  Or, not?

Each of us has our own set of circumstances that we face each holiday season.  For some, it is filled with joy, happiness and cheer.  For other’s, it is not.  It becomes a time of stress, depression and alienation.  I don’t fit into either of these categories.  I have not gathered with my brother, sister and dad in over five years.  It’s interesting that they do not seem to miss me, and I forget how much time has passed between the phone calls (or messages) that I send.  They have their own lives, and I do not fit into them.

My mom died in 1998, five days before Christmas.  It was her favorite holiday, and my parent’s house was always decorated for the season.  She always had a beautiful tree, lights on the house, garland over the mantel and poinsettia or Christmas cacti on the coffee table.  There were stockings hung by the fireplace, and Christmas music filled the air.

Even as an adult, I enjoyed my mom’s love of the season.  I do miss the smell of home-baked pies, fudge and Christmas dinner.  She was from the old school of cooking, and made the best Blue Berry Cheese cake.  She always invited us to the house for Christmas dinner.  But, it’s different now. . .she’s gone. . .

These days, I spend Christmas with my partner and our son.  It’s filled with happiness and joy, and we have created some of our own traditions.  The biggest change is that we eat a smaller meal.  Growing up, we had huge platters of food, and sometimes seconds.  Today, I cannot imagine how we ate it all.

We choose our dinner in a different way.  We select things like salmon, rice, Quiche or stuffed pork loin.  Our entries usually are organic. . .gone are the mountains of fat filled entries, followed by plates filled with deserts.  Once more, food is enjoyed for its flavor and texture, instead of delving into gluttony.

This year, I’ll mark the anniversary of my mom’s death by lighting a white candle at the beach on December 20th.  I do this almost every year.  It was her favorite place to be in life, and it’s what I remember most about her.  I remember the beach. . .it was always the beach. . .

After that, we may travel this holiday season to the Oregon coast to watch the storms, walk on the beach and maybe visit my partner’s dad (if they are around).  We will definitely spend time together, open presents, share time, sing songs, and celebrate the season. . .

Love & Light to All. . .Karen

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