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“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”

   – Erma Bombeck

Holidays are never easy, especially far away from a lot of the people I care for and nearly everything I have ever known for the longest portion of my life. I am not from Pennsylvania, where my husband and I presently live with our son. I am, however, originally from a rather small town in central Ohio, one I have lived in my entire childhood and all but a handful of years out of my adult life. Being here isn’t easy sometimes, especially at holidays. It’s lonely, and depressing, even when I keep trying to tell myself it shouldn’t be with John and Thor here with me.

The rest of my surviving family is all meeting at my grandma’s house this evening to open presents, eat ham salad sandwiches, and fight over the last black olive like we always did. This is our first Christmas without my grandfather. I didn’t make it there last year to see him, or bring him his gift before he passed away a week later. I still regret that.

What sort of things do I remember about Christmas?

Grandma and Grandpa always hung our stockings on the side of the stair rails, not the fireplace, they looked like santa bloomers for the girls, and santa overalls for the boys. Every year we had to line up behind our stockings to get a group picture taken before we could open them. We always got them last, after we had unwrapped the rest of the presents on Christmas Eve.

I remember the year my dad stepped outside with a shotgun, fired a shot into the air and said he’d shot Rudolph.

I remember the year I was 10 years old and my dad was out of work, and all we got for Christmas that year was a wiener dog puppy. Truthfully, a new dog was all we had really wanted anyway, after someone had poisoned our beautiful white German Shepherd the summer before. We named her Daisy Mae after the girl on Dukes Of Hazard. Best dog ever.

I remember going caroling one year with a group of kids from the church, and pestering the group leader for us to stop at Uncle Louie’s house so we could sing for him, even though he wasn’t on their list of stops. I think it may have been one of the last handful of times I got to see him before he passed. I miss Uncle Louie a lot, he was a kind and gentle person, with a great booming bass voice when he sang, and a whole back yard full of heirloom chickens.

I could keep listing, but right now it just isn’t helping. In a way it’s just making me feel even more lonely. Even good memories hurt sometimes. Cherish your friends and family, not only during the holidays but every day. You never know what a small oddball thing that seems meaningless now, will mean to your loved ones far into the future.