My first Christmas away from home, the song I'll be home for Christmas always made me cry. I wasn't home for Christmas for that year or the next three. It was hard to grow up, but growing up and moving on during the holidays made me lonely for my family.
The first Christmas after my grandmother passed away was extremely hard. She made Christmas so special and was always smiling and laughing. She baked up more goodies than a pastry/candy shop and sang Christmas songs while she did it. Her Christmas cookie recipe is still a tradition for everyone left behind, but my first year of baking them on my own, they were a little saltier from my tears.
A couple of years after she passed, I lost my grandfather a few days before Christmas. We lived in the Rockies and were in a blizzard and I couldn't make it home for the funeral. The next Spring I flew home and sat by his grave, telling him how sorry I was and that I missed him so much. He was a father I didn't have when I was very young; he took me fishing and taught me to shoot a gun, always took the time to talk to me about his life...
This was the hardest year I've faced and the loss of Butler was difficult to bear. He was my cat that I'd had for many years, but Christmas was his time. Sleeping under the tree, playing with ribbons on gifts, and lying by my side during family movie time sharing peppermint ice cream.
So this year as I started the cookies (I have to make several batches throughout the Christmas season) I had my Christmas music playing on my iPod stereo. When Mariah Carey's I miss you most at Christmastime came on.
Every Christmas is hard, the feelings of loss and the pain of guilt eat a little at me for those I no longer have in my life, but when I listened to it knowing my baby wasn't here, I nearly fell to the floor as tears rolled down my face. He was my baby in every sense, even called me Momma and knowing he would no longer spend another holiday with me, dancing in the kitchen, looking out the window at the lights, snuggling in the chilly weather, my heart broke all over again.
Sometimes I wish we could forget the pain, but I wouldn't trade this incredible ache for all the happy memories I do have that are just buried right now in my grief.
Christmas still comes and we can't change that, but I do choose to move forward so I must be off to bake my own buffet of sweets, while singing Christmas songs, so that the rest of my children will remember me for the same things I miss the most when it's my time.