20 December 2015

Make Time this Christmas to be Present

All of us in one place? Not as easy as it used to be.
As I was driving home last night, I was thinking about Christmas. More specifically about all the great things we did when I was a kid. It was a real treat to grow up in my family, Christmas was considered to be the best time of the year. not just because of presents, but due to all the get togethers and various functions both sides of my family would have. Christmas parties, visits to our house and visiting other people kept us going crazy all month long. Christmas Eve was the most looked forward to night of the year. Papa and Grandma would come over to our house, soon to be joined by a large contingent of my fathers' family. It was a loud, boisterous time and when it died down it was off to my mothers' side and even more Christmas. Grampa and Granny brought the whole brood under their roof every Christmas Eve and more libations and presents were exchanged. There would be 30 plus people crammed into that little house and what fun we had. 
The point of this little non-beer related post is that while I thinking of these wonderful times, I started to contemplate the future. Already these traditions are changed from when I was a kid. That is natural, things change. But what struck me was what Christmas will be like in 10, 15 or 20 years from now for me and Kat. We do not have kids, hopefully we will, but nothing is certain. My extended family rarely can get together because everyone is "busy". I am guilty of this myself. Just wanting to go home and try a beer or two before crashing out for the night. The thought I kept coming back to was not the presents of Christmas past, but the presence of the people who made it my favourite time of the year.
I am lucky enough at 42 to still have my Granny around to keep me grounded in those childhood days. She does an amazing job of bringing us all together on the Eve and at 90 has more energy than pretty much any of us. But still, there are some things I really miss.
 My Papa and Grandma coming through the door on Christmas Eve was one of my favourite memories and I always kind of wish I could have that feeling one more time.
 Walking into Grampa's house and seeing him sitting at the kitchen table waiting for all of us to arrive for that same night is another thing that I would love to experience again.
So many other moments big and small that make my Christmas memories shine.
Life doesn't work that way. All I have are my memories and that is what I am getting at. It truly is the people who are not here that strikes me the hardest. We lost my Uncle Tom this year and he loved Christmas more than almost anyone. He played Santa Claus and raised money for charity doing it. He loved to watch the kids eyes light up when he walked into a room, dressed as Santa or not. We've said good bye to more amazing people than I care to remember. Brothers, sisters, parents, extended family and friends passing from this world far too soon. This is what made me open my eyes.
I am sure we all have fond memories of those who are not here. I ache at their not being with us and saddened to see those around me suffer from the pain of the important people who they've lost and cannot have with them at this most joyous time of the year. This has struck the chord with me. What about the people who are here, but whom we do not make the effort to see. What about that best friend you've fallen out of touch with because trying to fit them into your schedule is "hard". What about that family member who you don't talk to because of some slight years ago. What about all the people who we want to reach out to but feel too much time has passed and despite our best intentions, we just don't try.
This is the thing. I am sure we all feel rushed. We shouldn't, but we do. Always trying to cram more things and events into our hectic schedules, but missing out on what is truly needed. Time is a commodity that isn't bankable. All we have is the here and now. You are not promised tomorrow, so get on with your life today.
I know it sounds simple. Pick up the phone, drop by for a visit or send a text message and get together for a pint. It isn't that easy for most of us. Maybe we feel some shame at letting people lapse out of our lives or not being there when they called. Perhaps we've spent to much time looking inward at our own lives and not enough time trying to connect to our wider circle of family and friends. I don't know what it is you miss, but I am sure it is something or someone. And that is the whole point of my rambling.
There is time, as Scrooge learned, to start all over again. It really never is to late to come back home. Just because we have fallen apart does not mean we cannot put it back together again. My biggest fear is who I will be missing next year. Hopefully no one, but we never know when our time here on this planet is up.  I do not want to be sitting here next December thinking about someone I've lost and wishing I had spent more time with them, especially at Christmas. You do not want to remember someone you love and regret that you couldn't find the time to include them in your life. People are not perfect. We know all too many ways to hurt one another and often do so without malice. That is the thing I want to stress the most. If you can forgive someone, do it, you will be better off for it. Hanging on to old wounds if it is possible to heal them is not going to be something you will treasure as the years pass.  I am as guilty as anyone at holding a grudge, but all that gets me is exactly nothing. By all means do not interact with someone who actively hurts you emotionally or physically. I am well aware that there are some things people do that are just not forgivable. But I am talking about those things which seemed so big at the time, but now you can see them for what they truly are and wish there was some way to repair the damage.
Don't let 2015 pass by without trying to do better. Make the first step and I think you will be surprised at what happens. At the very least, you tried. Forgive yourself while you're at it. You are never as bad as you think you are. Have some humility, you are not better than anyone either. Try to get along with people, it makes life better. And most of all, go home. Wherever that is. Go there, raise a glass of egg nog, or beer or coffee and toast your amazing luck at having found your way through that door. I may only have my memories of those long ago days, but that isn't a reason to not make new ones. Please do yourself a favour and at least try.
Someone misses you, I guarantee it.
Merry Christmas!


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