December 25th and for most of the world is known as Merry Christmas as globally we have accepted that it is politically correct to incorporate this Christian Day as into the lives of all, AND I AM NOT COMPLAINING! It does not mean I must confirm and believe in Christ, but I do get one extra day in my year for an excuse (if I need it) to be jolly like good Ole’ St. Nick. The truth is St. Nick was a Bishop around 280 AD who gave to the needy, and the legend grew after he had died he gave the gift to children, therefore, he became St. Nick or Santa Claus. However, giving of oneself is a real blessing we can give in our life and if it means celebrating December 25th to remember it, so be it.
I was taught to give and want to give, and I have instilled that in my sons. Alex does it so naturally when it comes to his passion and need for awareness of individual needs and specifically anti-bullying. If it were up to Alex, no one would ever be bullied again, and we would all live like a Norman Rockwell painting.
Both my parents (and my in-laws) were givers. I am not talking about buyers of gifts although my in-laws, specifically my mother-in-law loved to shop and find something just for you. My mother-in-law Loretta always left an extra-large tip. She got to know every waitress where she ate and knew their story, and each one needed a little extra help, and she was going to play her part. My mother and mother-in-law both had the same philosophy never let someone be alone at the holidays; there was always room for one more or two or three. Both my moms treated others the way they hoped to be treated, with kindness and respect.
What I miss most about the past was having my mother-in-law join us on Christmas morning. Since we are typically early birds, and so was she, either she would come to our house, or we would go to hers, and open presents and sit around the breakfast table and just talk. Alex would be content playing with his gifts and often Rich would excuse himself and take a morning nap. It was just Loretta, and I was sharing both the present and the past. Our last Christmas together was 2006; she passed away in just before Christmas in 2007. The best gift we gave her was sharing that Alex had been accepted into college.
Every year we have called my mom on Christmas morning teasing her asking what Santa Claus brought her and her reply is the same, he skipped her house since Chanukah Harry had stopped by. In fact, during Chanukah each year we tried to make it our tradition to call her (and when dad was still alive, him too) to light Chanukah candles over the phone. Sometimes she would add a rendition of “Rock of Ages,” in Hebrew. Last night it was joyous when Alex wanted to light the first candle but also sad, I knew that this year we could not call and share lighting the Menorah.
Last night was also another night of memories; I lit the Yahrzeit Candle for my first niece, Laurie Pamela Moss who passed away in December of 1968 of Sudden Infant Death. Laurie would have been 49 years old this year had she lived. Instead, her life ended at three months. I dedicated myself to SIDs for a couple of years starting a chapter in the Ann Arbor area meeting some wonderful people as I searched for answers and comfort to my personal loss. Along the way, I helped others as I helped myself.
Today, it’s Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a New Normal in our home as my Jennifer Kilbane has taught me. Six years ago, Jennifer and her husband Brian gave birth to Keira, a very healthy baby girl, only to soon learn Keira would be fighting a battle of her life, Childhood Cancer. For Jennifer and Brian, this is not the Christmas Birth they were expecting and yet they had their beautiful daughter whom they love with all their heart. Jen and Brian learned a new lifestyle very quickly and with the help of a wonderful family, friends and medical staff they have grown. Keira is and always will be their daughter and little Grady’s sister. However, Keira will be part of this family from the heavens spreading her angel wings.
I share the mention of Keira and the Keira Kilbane foundation because it is essential today that we don’t forget what is important in our lives. We must hold what is close to us and let in grow to help others and to give back in a healthy manner that benefits ourselves too. We all can be OLE’ ST. NICK and give to others in the what we are comfortable. Giving is not measured in dollars.
Today I reflect on the many Chanukah gifts that I got and remember a box of crayons that I jumped up and down for joy over or a tin of watercolors. I didn’t need the Barbie, or the X-Box or my I-Phone, it was the simple things, and it still could be today.
Enjoy your family and your friends – tell someone you love them or like them – make someone smile.