[side note: my absence of posting has been due to good reason; the end of this past semester was a doozie and I didn’t have much time to even think about writing.]
Both of my parents grew up in devout Catholic families, but my family in particular never practiced religion. We never went to church on Sundays so the Christian meaning behind December 25 was never the reason for the celebration.
As a child, when Christmas rolled around, it meant I got lots of gifts and I didn’t have to go to school. What’s better than that?
We had our family gatherings, but as a child they always seemed like a burden to me. They were always just one more thing to get in the way of me and opening presents.
As we got older, those family gatherings became much smaller. Members of my family have branched out across the country — my brother in Florida, my cousin in D.C., — and we’ve lost three additional family members to the afterlife.
In their passing, however, their memory lives on, and there have been new additions to our annual celebration. Both of my brothers are married, and their wives and families have become part of the holiday mix. While still celebrating the lives and memories of those lost and moved away, new memories are made with those who have become, in essence, new members of the family.
As the annual gathering has become thinner, my own personal reason for the season has drastically changed. It is no longer about the gifts — no longer about getting new clothes, video games, toys, and the like, or even comparing my gifts with my brothers’ gifts. Over the last few years, my Christmas meaning has become full-circle.
It’s about family.
To me, the material gifts I receive are no longer what’s important. The true gifts, those in which no material or monetary value can be placed, is the company of my family members.
We each bring our own flair to the gathering, with new stories from the past year and our own quirky sense of humor, and these moments cannot be trumped by any gift I may give or unwrap. It’s the hug or the handshake that is the best gift anyone can ask for. It’s the love from those who we love; family.
My brother Ben was the first to emigrate from the “great” state of Michigan and I’m hoping in six months I will be the next to do the same, so the time I get to spend with family may be few and far between.
This holiday season, especially today, enjoy the time you get to spend with your family, as I will cherish every moment I get with mine.
Remember, times change, people change and our geographical location may change, but family will always stay the same.
I love my family.