At this moment, I am feeling somewhat melancholy, because tomorrow (Christmas Day), this house will be eerily quiet. Growing up in New Orleans, our house was the gathering place on holidays. Ordinarily, I did not (and still don’t) enjoy big gatherings and loud noise, but on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I welcomed the sound of family and friends who came together, both to celebrate the holiday, and to gather with those that we loved, to eat, laugh, eat, play, eat, and to re-establish and acknowledge the bond between each of us and those gathered with us. So, l love loud and boisterous Christmas’.
Until 3-4 weeks ago, I envisioned the house taken over by my 9 g’children and their respective parents, Jared & Franziska Patricia Cola, Brea Cola Angelo & Koury Angelo, Brandi Michelle & David Wasdin. In a house with 8 children, under the age of 6, loud is an understatement.
But tonight, I know that neither Jared and his family, nor Brea and her family can join us tomorrow. Jared lives hours away and unfortunately, he is working almost every day, including Christmas. Brea and family are still in California because she became ill, a couple days before they were scheduled to leave for Texas and since, has been diagnosed with a severe case of the flu.
I have a vivid recollection of the first and only time that I got sick on a holiday, in my case it was an Easter Sunday. I clearly remember my older cousin carrying me home after I became sick–all over the church pew. In spite of being sick, I was mortified that I’d actually thrown up in Church. I wondered whether vomiting in Church was sacrilegious or something. Anyway, such thoughts quickly took a back seat, when I got home and my Mom told me how I would spend my day. First, I had to take off my church dress and get into pajamas. Next, I had to crawl into bed where I was to spend the rest of the day. It was a dreadful Easter, turkey, ham or fixings, and no candy or Easter egg hunts, but had to lie where I was able to watch my siblings and cousins running and playing while I could not join in the fun.
The flu. I don’t know, but it seems like the universe playing a cruel joke on you when you get sick on a major holiday, especially one which involves kids. It breaks my heart that Brea is so weak that I can’t even speak to her on the phone. (I am heartened that my AH-MAZING SIL, Koury, is skillfully caring for Brea, their two boys, Brooks and Jude Austin and the beautiful little “Belle.” He is an incredible husband and father!)
Even in their absence, I know that I am blessed because their absence is simply a matter of the unpredictable nature of life, and not because they have passed on, as I know is the case with many family and friends my age.
Moreover, I am grateful that my youngest, Brandi, and her family will be here for a while. Brandi and Dave have one daughter, eleven year old Daisy, who will represent all of cousins as we celebrate the day of Jesus’ birth. Ironically, at her age she is not one of the noise-makers. In fact, she is at the age where she does everything that she can to separate herself from them. It is amusing to watch.
If you’ve read the book, “The Five Love Languages,” you get it when I say that my love language is gifts, both gift giving and receiving, so Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. (If you haven’t read the book, you can check it out here. By reading it, you are guaranteed to learn something about yourself, as well as to better understand how others show their love. It will aid you in determining and understanding how we show our love to another. The book will undoubtedly provide a number of aha moments, while ultimately helping you to improve your relationships. Understanding one another is the first and most important step to improve any relationship. So, I am wistful everytime I pass the huge pile of gifts under the tree. I feel a hole created by my absent loves, but in my mind’s eye, I see the parents (my children and their significant others) as they strain to catch the children’s faces as they obliterate the wrapping paper to reach the prize within. I also can see my own children’s faces, as I remember the joy that I felt as I watched their young faces. They were excitement personified as they tore into their Christmas gifts, and realized that they’d gotten everything that they wanted. I can’t help but smile, as I thank God for the greatest gifts that I’ve both given and received: Jared, Brea and Brandi. They are my gifts to the world.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and though she has the flu, I pray that Brea makes a speedy recovery. I also pray for Jared and welcome the day when he does not have to work so hard, and can utilize all of his considerable knowledge and skills. The thing is that as saddened as I may feel, I know that I am blessed because, God willing, next year, we will all gather together at this time of year, with a deeper sense of gratitude for the time that we spend together as a family.
Meanwhile, Christmas day will bring me more than 5 minutes to meditate on the birth that changed my life and makes me who I am. I suppose that answers the question of why all of this happened and that is quite a reason. And then, there are all those Christmas cards that I have yet to write…
I must confess to one thing. Given the small number of us who will gather together on this Christmas Day, I decided to forego the turkey and all, in favor of red beans and rice (After all, it is a Monday.), and crawfish etoufee. There are no complaints.
I wish you, your family, and friends a safe and Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with good health, joy love, laughter and abundant blessings.