Depending on when you read this blog, we may be in the midst of the holidays or already filling up our 2024 planners. But I love to reflect on the Christmas season for various reasons. It is a fantastic time to celebrate life, cherish relationships, and anticipate a new year, which could offer a new opportunity if we had a tough year. I particularly enjoy taking time to reflect on what I would change and how I can strive to become a better person in the coming year.
Mixed into my life is my love for my crazy dog, Louie! A decade ago, at this same time of the year, Louie and I had just started our journey together, trying to understand each other. Looking at him now, I wonder how different his life would have been if we hadn’t crossed paths. We still have a lot of work to do, but I believe he is much happier today than he was a year ago at this time.
It reminds me of the people I’ve lost and the relationships that I no longer have. If my Bichon, Cece, was still with me, Louie would not be. I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if my parents were still alive to see my grandchildren. It’s been more than decades since they passed away, but I still miss them and cherish the memories we shared, particularly during the Christmas season.
Our cozy Cape Cod home, nestled in a suburban cul-de-sac, was always filled with excitement, especially on Christmas Eve. We would have a grand celebratory meal, and then all eight of us would pile into the Edsel to attend midnight mass. Afterward, family and friends would join us at our home, while us kids were quickly tucked into bed so that we wouldn’t delay Santa’s visit.
We used to wake up before dawn and run down the stairs, only to find out later that our parents had stayed up all night putting toys and bikes together to surprise us. With six children in the family and a father who was an officer for the Cincinnati Police Department, it was truly magical that they could pull it off. But they did, and there was always a really big gift waiting for us somewhere else in the house that would leave us breathless. Even our faithful dog, Smokie, would join in on the fun, sniffing out the dog treats my mom had wrapped up for him.
More family and friends would come over for a brunch that would last for hours. Once again, we’d pile in the car and head to our grandparents’ home for another large meal and fun times. We sometimes stopped at an uncle’s home, and once we kids called it a night, even more people would visit with Mom and Dad.
I can’t imagine how they did it all, but my mom and dad enjoyed life to the fullest, and I will always appreciate that about them. I honor their memories by celebrating Christmas with the same vigor, love, laughter, and life. Sadly, life includes necessary endings. Saying goodbye to my parents, experiencing other tragic losses too painful to mention, and bidding farewell to one too many furbabies I’ve carried in my arms means I have closed the chapter on a part of my life but am opening a door on another. Louie represents one more chapter in my life, and he brings me incredible joy. And each chapter keeps getting better, as I’ve shared with my daughter Marisa. I’ve enjoyed every stage of her life, but I believe this stage is the best so far!