Christmas has always been a magical time of year for me. This is the time of year, when no matter how dark things are, I still believe in miracles. Its been a sacred family time as well, with many small traditions--some that date back to my childhood, some that I've instituted with our family. We have a seafood meal on Christmas Eve, (in a nod to our Italian ancestors), walk around the neighborhood and view the Christmas luminary, and then come back to exchange "family" gifts (in contrast to "Santa" gifts). Our gift to the kids is always matching Christmas pajamas--a tradition that starting when they were as babies, as a guarantees they'd all look great in the Christmas morning photos. After gifts are exchanged, we read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" aloud, and then go outside and toss reindeer food (a mixture of oats and red glitter) on the lawn. Then its time for bed.
I've been feeling very sorry for myself these days, as my fifteen-almost-sixteen-year old son will not be with us for Christmas this year--at all. He'll be gone from December 19 through January 4, celebrating the holiday in Edinburgh with his girlfriend. As that puts thousands of miles and the Atlantic Ocean between us, its safe to say he won't be a part of our holidays. I've been wallowing in my misery, and refusing to get engaged in the season.
Then yesterday, my friend Jenny shared a page she'd written for Mahalo with me, on Christmas in Iraq. Reading it, and thinking about all the parents whose children won't be with them for much less joyful reasons than Tom's, broke through to me. He is following is heart...and I owe him not only my permission to go, but my joy. So, I'll pack up a package of reindeer food, a copy of "Twas the Night Before Christmas", and the traditional Christmas Eve gift of pajamas--with an extra pair for Julia.
I hope customs doesn't confiscate the reindeer food.