By Amy Kernan
I’ve always loved the Christmas season. The tree, the presents, the whole idea of Christmas is such a sweet time for anyone who celebrates it, to treasure. I can remember standing outside of my parents’ house one at about the age of 24, the snow gently falling, the tree from the window sparkled, and I just stopped to look around for a minute to take the wonder of life in. I remember almost tearing up at how magical everything had felt that night. I didn’t want that feeling to end.
I was also in love for the very first time in my life and the overwhelming sensation of that coupled with Christmas just felt like I really was walking in a winter wonderland. I remember how I felt but I don’t feel it anymore and that makes me sad.
My grandmother, the woman who MADE Christmas for our family, passed away in 2005. The world got a little less colorful and Christmas felt like a struggle after years of her making chili and clam chowder, her special recipes of chocolate cookies and “wreaths” and banana bread, and these tiny ham sandwiches that we’d all go nuts over. The thoughtfulness of her gifts and the kindness and warmth of her home can never be forgotten no matter how steel hearted once can become.
We didn’t really know where to go after that, so different family members would host our Christmas’ at their houses depending on who had the time and the clean house to put such a gathering on. It was never like our grandmother’s but at least we had Mom to be that glue and bring joy and happiness back to the holidays. Once again, things felt a little cozier, a little warmer. The food never tasted exactly the same but a few new traditions were tossed in (sausage stars… my sister made sausage stars and I don’t want to know a Christmas without them.)
In 2013, Mom died. The holiday season has never been the same. The family sort of broke up. Everyone went their own ways in their sadness and that massive loss to our family made Christmas feel ‘like just another day.’ I never wanted to feel that way. Soon, though, I became numb. I think we all did.
Certain people make the magic of the holidays real. Not having those people around to remind you why you should be celebrating or to give you a big holiday hug on Christmas morning has made it difficult to get excited. All of my nieces and nephews are grown and having children of their own or busy doing their own thing, so that part of the Christmas experience is gone too. It’s enough to make me want to drink so much wine that I forget the past altogether and pass out under the Christmas tree.
That, however, is NOT what I’m going to do. While recapturing the Christmas spirit I used to have will be a difficult task, I am determined to feel happy this year. Whether it’s helping someone in need or just being there for someone else who is feeling a little lost this time of year, I want to do something good. It’s been almost seven years since my family lost the great Sue Kernan, a mother unlike any other, and I feel her spirit pushing me to let go of what I can’t control. I can hear her voice in my ear, “Christmas is what you make of it. Onward and upward, Amy Lou Hoo.”
I know so many folks feel alone at Christmas. I know the pain of not feeling like you can connect with anyone and that makes one isolate themselves even further during the “hap-happiest season of all.”
It doesn’t have to be that way. Choosing to be happy will put an instant smile on your face and can do wonders for your lack of holiday spirit.
If you’re feeling low this season, let me know if I can help. Even if it’s just a song you’d like to hear or a story you’d like to tell, don’t be afraid to reach out to me on our text line: 563-263-8600. You’re not alone. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Hanukkah! May your 2020 be your best year yet.