Christmas … without family

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2003

It's such a shame that some families can't be together for the holidays.

Great distances, work, illness, school, etc. All reasons families don't get to see each other during what should be a family season.

And then, there are families who can't be together simply because of personal differences (or pettiness).

That's got to be the most difficult kind of separation there is during Christmas.

I remember growing up that my mom's family always had a huge get-together every Christmas at my grandparents' house.

Those times hold such great memories. Spending the day with my cousins and aunts and uncles. Eating, laughing, eating, playing, eating (you see the trend here).

We had such a large family that we often joked we didn't grow by ones or twos; but instead, we grew in multiples of three and four.

Of course, we drew names for Christmas presents earlier in the year, and this was always the occasion when we discovered whose name had been drawn by whom.

My Aunt Marjorie, no matter who drew her name, was always the butt of someone's joke.

She has an awful phobia of mice and all critters of that nature. So, naturally, she always wound up getting some kind of little gag gift.

(Usually at the expense of her husband, my dad and other uncles -- including her brother.)

The grandchildren would always get the same thing from my grandparents. Usually, it was identical in color -- if possible.

Those are the types of memories I'll never forget.

Sadly, we don't do that anymore.

After my grandparents died, we tried it for a few years, but I guess some just thought it wasn't worth it anymore.

I really miss those days. Christmas really hasn't been the same since.

On my dad's side of the family, we never really had big Christmases. There were a few years we did, but it wasn't a common thing.

In recent years, we would gather at a different aunt and uncle's house or my parents' house and have a big family meal and the little kids would get giant stockings filled with goodies.

This year, the big event was set to be held at my house.

I'm an adult now, and thought I'd open up my home to all my relatives for the holidays.

Everyone seemed to be in agreement and I anxiously anticipated the event.

I decorated, cleaned, decorated some more, bought some little gifts for the kids and adults and waited for everyone to arrive.

The day of the big event, everyone showed … except for one family … and I was both happy and sad.

I was glad that most of my dad's family showed up and was able to celebrate Christmas as a family.

I was extremely disappointed (but not as much as my dad) that other members of the family were unable to show up.

Which leads me back to my original point. It's great that so many families are able to get together for the holiday season, but when you have to experience the holidays without your family, it can be an extremely difficult time.

Call it wishful thinking, or simply hoping for a Christmas miracle, but I sincerely hope you're able to spend the holidays with your loved ones. If not, remember, most of them are just a telephone call away. And for those in the military, know that you may not be home, but you're in our hearts.

Merry Christmas.