I made a valiant attempt this year for a nice holiday, and I think that is commendable considering the circumstances. We had all the making for a wonderful holiday: we were celebrating at home this year, dozens of Christmas cookies were on hand, plans for an intimate family gathering were all laid out. The snow had complicated things though, with who could get to the store for food supplies. But despite all that, we were determined to make things work.

As we drove to pick up my youngest brother on our way to the holiday get together, my mother called to tell me we needed to cancel the Christmas celebration. My grandfather, who has been very ill for months, was not doing well. Apparently his kidneys are failing at this point – I’ll spare you the details. It’s always so hard to tell how long someone has left in this world, but things seem quite grave. She handed over some delicious holiday pies she baked earlier and sent us on our way, as she went to play nurse all day instead with my grandmother.

Out of a large family, it ended up with only four of us sharing a patched together holiday meal. We had wine and beer, enjoyed some pear chutney, and tried hard to keep things merry. But by the end of the day, my brother and I were just exhausted. It’s hard to keep a smile on your face when all of your thoughts are just completely consumed thinking of someone else.

Although this holiday was nothing like those typical boisterous get togethers, with small children running wild and things coming in and out of the oven, it was a holiday that made me immensely grateful. Life is fleeting. At the end of the day, I have the kind of family willing to cancel Christmas to care for someone in need. I have Jay here to comfort me when I fall apart. And in my opinion, these are the most important things in life. How lucky am I to have such love.

I hope your holiday was full of love as well, and perhaps a bit less chaos.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson