This past week in my city, a woman was burned to death by arson in her home, leaving behind her husband and three children. I died a bit inside. Since then, it seems that fire has ravaged several homes. Some accidental. I try to place myself in their shoes-losing their homes, possessions, their mother. Right in the midst of a bitter cold snap, and weeks before the biggest holiday season of the year.
I lost Kevin just a month before Thanksgiving in 2008, and those holidays were so numbing for me. There was no celebration in my heart for what were supposed to be happy days. This year a friend celebrates her first holidays alone since her husband and her split. Catering to their child, trying to find some semblance of normalcy for her.
While many of us have joyous times over this time of year, many do not. *warning* This may turn into the preachy, do good unto others over the holidays, speech.
My own mother kind of *hates* the holidays. Both my sister and I became deathly ill and spent a Christmas in the hospital. Last year, she was in the hospital for her surgery for her Uterine Cancer over Thanksgiving. This year, my father will be receiving chemotherapy over the holiday season. Where’s the joy in that? This is also her first year without any parents living.
What about those who simply have no money? It’s not simple at all. Their children, like all children, want gifts. There’s so much guilt in not being able to give that to their children. I feel guilt for not having enough money to spend on the ones I love, yet I know, and I know that all of my family understands, that it doesn’t matter. Yet still, it matters to me. Is it because those possessions are how I am taught to show my love and gratefulness?
I haven’t done crazy amounts of shopping, but a significant part of me just wants to put the money towards non-profits of my choice instead of gifts. Would that person prefer that over a sweater, or a cool piece of technology? Would they understand and feel just as good about me doing that, or would they feel like they were “dissed” by not getting what they had hoped for?
Our priorities are so screwed up. There’s nothing wrong with wanting things, but expecting things is another story. Did I expect that this would be my third Christmas alone without Kevin? Did I ever think that this holiday would be spent with another man and his daughter? No, absolutely not. But with all that happens, I am happy with what I have this year.
Others do not, though. Others have lost more than I, more than you. As I think of that family whose mother was murdered in that fire, Christmas is just….wow. I can’t even think about it, I hurt for them, I ache for what they must face. I ache for how they’ll have to get by. I think of what I have lost, and it feels incomparable to what this family must face this year.
It’s ok to buy things for the ones you love, but please, do a little bit for the organizations of your choice, pay it forward to a person or family in need, open up your home to someone who is alone this holiday.