Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Treasures

It's Christmas and we're busy getting ready.

Our tree is decorated and the lights are on.  But one of the most important parts of Christmas will be missing this year:  family.  Oh, most of our family will show up like always - full of laughter, hugs and warmth. 

But this year we'll be missing my dad (his third year missing) as well as my husband's mom who died this past summer.

At a holiday party this past weekend I learned of three other friends who lost their moms this past year.  We're in the generation that is facing the decline, and ultimate death, of our parents. 

The other night I woke up from a sound sleep thinking of something I needed to tell my father right away.  It took me a few seconds to come fully awake and realize that I would never again be able to simply pick up the phone and call my dad.  His loss, like the loss of my mother-in-law, has left a hole.

Most days that hole is covered and not so raw, but there are moments, like the other morning, when the scab rips off and the pain is fresh and real again.

The new report by AARP finds about 66 million Americans today are helping care for an family member.  These individuals – my peers – are facing a holiday filled with stress and worry.  It may be hard for them to find the “peace on earth; good will toward men” this Christmas.

The tree may be decorated and the lights strung on the house.  But inside, we’ll be facing a new kind of Christmas reality; the reality that life is short and those we have left are much to be treasured.

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