This was the very first Christmas without my grandpa around. I noticed it most when, at my grandma’s this afternoon, he wasn’t around to cut ham for sandwiches as we exchanged gifts.
But another tradition I was unaware of was tree decorating. Apparently, my grandpa would always decorate his family tree, but I never knew this until today, Christmas. As we all talked about my grandpa and how we miss him, we talked about how my family, particularly my sister and myself decorated my grandma’s tree for her this year. After we were done decorating, the lights that had been plugged in to light the tree, began to flicker and then went off, only to kick right back on without a glitch. Some may say that it was an electrical malfunction, but to me, it was a simple way of my grandfather letting us know he was with us.
A cousin put it perfectly when she said that my grandfather was understanding. He may have been set in his own beliefs, but he was always willing to have a conversation with people, and not be ignorant to their beliefs. After being surrounded by a very versatile family, and reflecting on some flickering light bulbs, I truly understand that just because someone passes on it doesn’t mean they are gone forever.
Another person my family lost was my father’s mother. While this wasn’t the first holiday season without her, since she past away in late 2012, it seemed to hit me more this holiday. Breaking oplatek (a Polish wafer broken to share well wishes at Christmas) with family members, it really hit me to not hear my mimi in her strong voice wishing me health, wealth and happiness and that I would stop doing so much homework. While my mimi wasn’t the healthiest the final few years of her life, I do remember her grabbing me and whipping me around the kitchen floor as she led me in a polka dance. I can’t help but think of her every time I hear an accordion go off.
They are in your own traditions as I was the designated ham slicer at our afternoon gift-exchange. They are in your walks down memory lane at big, festive dinners. They are in electrical glitches, that may be pure coincidence or a nice way of saying “hi.” Whatever the case may be, this holiday season was a nice little reminder for me that those important, while they are there to share in it, are somewhere far away, or sadly passed on, there is always this time of the year when we can feel especially close to them.
Through traditions, conversations, gifts, meals, family and friends, I have found a special Christmas miracle this season. I found a way to keep the light of the Christmas season, and a very special person alive in my heart. You can, too, if you just allow yourself to feel it. Who knows a special hello can be just another flicker of lights, or a polka dance away.