A lesson learned on Christmas

December 8, 2019

“Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”  Gilda Radner

Most of us are planners. And as the holiday season is upon us, we want the menus decided, the table set, gifts tags and bows atop every box.

Who doesn’t have expectations surrounding the holidays?

My husband and I invited family over to decorate the tree last weekend, and when we plugged it in, the top half was dark and another strand on the bottom was out. We had a pre-lit middle.

I recall the good old days when you had to string the lights around the real tree. It was my father’s job and so as a newlywed, I expected my husband to follow suit. The first Christmas we were married, I found out that he hated to decorate for the holidays. Bah Humbug, he said.

We had a huge fight which resulted in me stomping out the door to go to work. That night when I came home he had strung huge multi-colored light bulbs up and down our ficus tree, cascading them around the macramé pots of  philodendron. What a guy!

My father loved Christmas. When I was a young girl of about 7, he was in the hospital on Christmas Eve. He had his gallbladder removed and a complication ensued, and my mother had to manage everything without him.

On Christmas I was certain I would receive a black patent leather pocketbook that my mother knew I really wanted. Morning came and there was no purse. I pouted. When my mother asked me what was wrong, and I told her the truth, she became angry.

“A purse! Is that what you wanted? I want your father home with us! How can you be so selfish?”  I ran to my room weeping, thinking how could my mother be so cruel?

After a few minutes she came to me crying and still angry.  My father had been in the hospital for weeks, and she needed extra money to pay for babysitters, she explained. There were six of us under the age of 9 and my mother did not know how to drive. She took the bus and sometimes splurged for a taxi.

Needless to say, I never forgot that lesson. But thinking about it today has been a good thing. I can afford to order gifts on the internet, and track my packages. What do I have to complain about?  The traffic on Route 1? A pre-lit tree?

I don’t know what  gifts or surprises await me today or any other day. Too often I spend too much money and time trying to make everyone happy for the holidays, when that’s not my responsibility.

Why not emulate Gilda and make the best of each moment?  Here’s wishing you the best moments too. Wishing you drive with caution! Be careful on the roads this rush rush holiday season!

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