Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Dec. 25, 2009
"Through the years, we all will be together"
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light. From now on, our troubles will be out of sight."
As Riley County vocal teacher Janie Brokenicky sang "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" at the high school's talent show last Friday, I felt a lump develop in my throat.
The song reminds me of past Christmases - and of those who are no longer here to share this one with us. My first husband Jerome. His parents Ken and Rita. Dad. Grandparents, aunts and uncles. Dear friends. Husband Art's mother Donna, who died only six months ago.
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, make the Yule-tide gay. From now on, our troubles will be miles away."
When daughters Mariya and Katie were little, we spent most of our Christmas vacations miles away - on the farm with my parents, at Jerome's parents' home in Wichita and later Oklahoma, in Kansas City with Art's children and grandchildren, and in Wisconsin to see Donna. Once we were there, we also visited Donna's sister Ione, who loved preparing a big holiday meal for us. In later years, we gathered at other Wisconsin relatives' homes to share Christmas cookies and New Year's cheer. The girls and I even traveled to Bolivia a couple of times to see my sister and family.
"Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore. Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us once more."
The packing up and traveling and eating and greeting were exhausting, and sometimes I wished we could just stay home for the holidays. But both Art and I knew that those times would end sooner than we wanted.
"Through the years, we all will be together, if the Fates allow. Hang a shining star upon the highest bough. And have yourself a merry little Christmas now."
This year will be much different from our previous holidays. We won't travel to Wisconsin. We won't get a supply of Donna's perfectly-aged pfeffernuts. We won't wrap gifts from her stash of paper saved from previous years and exchange gag gifts with her and Art's brother Tommy. We won't "ooh" and "ah" over the Christmas lights in Art's hometown. There will be no trip to Three Lakes to visit with cousins Claudia and Karl, nor one to see cousins Kris and Jim, where we celebrated the New Year with Donna's Herrmann clan.
Just a few days ago, youngest daughter Katie said she can't wait to make her own Christmas traditions.
"You mean you don't like our traditions?" I asked, a bit hurt.
"Oh, I like our traditions a lot, but I think it will be neat to make my own, too," she said.
And that's the way it is. We all have the capacity to make every Christmas special. And, when mixed with our memories of Christmas past, we all WILL be together again.