There was once a time when I just wanted to cancel Christmas. I would see evergreen trees decorated with Christmas ornaments and lights, and I’d cringe. The thought of turkey and dressing nearly drove me to tears. And, the sound of those seemingly endless carols made me feel Fa-la-la-la lousy. “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.” We weren’t going to grandmother’s house anymore; grandma was gone.
You see, my mother had passed away at the beginning of the year. So, my children and I and the rest of our family were left with a painful void. We were hurt, sad, and unsure of how in the world we could ever even think of celebrating Christmas without her.
She was our rock. She set all of our wonderful traditions; like her most delicious, perfectly-seasoned, wild rice, hot sausage, corn bread dressing. MMMMMmmmm! It was so good that my mother, my sister Lynn, and I, and later even my daughter Carmen and niece Andrea, would catch each other sneaking into the refrigerator late at night just to grab a taste or two or three. And now, it seemed we would never have a wonderful Christmas again; no Granma, no Mom, no dressing, no happiness.
As December 25th neared, we realized we would have to somehow do something for the holiday. After all, my mother would never cancel Christmas. But, would we dare to even try to make the dressing? Would it be too painful? Would it be any good?
My sister, daughter, niece and I took on the task of making Christmas dinner for the rest of our family. It was heartbreaking at first as we started to chop, cook and mix the ingredients to make the dressing. But later, when we all sat at the table to eat our Christmas dinner, and took a bite of the dressing, so many happy memories came to life: my mother’s smiles, hugs, and all of her love. It was like she was in the room with us that day (and had even put her extra love in our dressing). And we were, in fact, able to celebrate in a different, but special way. We had each other and so many wonderful memories, too.
It was that Christmas when I truly realized that instead of focusing on what’s sad, and what we don’t have, when we cherish what we do have, and what is good, that’s how we can find Happiness. That lesson was the most important gift I have ever received on Christmas or any other day.