When you go through a life changing event, the first holiday season is often like a test. There are many conflicting emotions, so much so that you almost want to just turn them all off just to avoid the clash. I can understand why some people are numb to the holidays; I get it now.
But we had a really good Thanksgiving surrounded by many cousins. The girls love having a lot of family around and it isn’t often that we can all get together like this. Geography now separates many of us, but since our parents are no longer getting together like they used to, we make that effort to keep the family going, just like when we were spending every holiday together as kids. Even with so many us together over the holiday break, it doesn’t hide the fact that there is someone missing. It may even magnify the absence of that person.
I visited my grandmother on Thanksgiving. Her studio apartment is always too warm, in the way that old radiators in NYC apartments sizzle and clank as the heat travels through the network of pipes. She has photos upon photos of family on every surface, many of which are old snapshots that have faded through the decades and some that are newer pictures of great grandkids. My grandmother is 92. Whenever I see her she tells me to take care of my mom the same way that my mom is taking care of her now. She tells me it’s good that I had 2 girls because they’ll take care of me too when I’m her age. She always manages to say that it might be the last time we see each other every time I visit.
After all the cousins left our apartment on Saturday, we went to our local tree lighting ceremony. I don’t think we’d ever been in all the years that the neighborhood has held them and we were surprised to see such a crowd and even news crews covering the event. Local businesses donated treats and carolers sang holiday songs. It was festive and it definitely felt like we had stepped into Small Town America (by the way, who else gets verklempt at that small biz AmEx commercial with the Simon & Garfunkel song? Well played AmEx, well played). Our neighborhood works hard to promote Small Biz Saturday and encourages neighbors to shop local – and rightly so, but in truth, many local businesses in our area have struggled with rising rents and online shopping. So many of us are trying to figure out this new economy.
I guess we’re officially in the season now, though Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier every year so it all feels a little less special now? I don’t know. Or maybe I’m a little less in the mood this year. There’s still time – 23 days to be exact – to feel that holiday magic.