Cherished Traces of a Merry Christmas

She felt lonely the day after Christmas, but barely visible reminders prolonged the joy.

Posted in , Nov 19, 2013

A heart-shaped finger smudge on a wintry window

The silence inside my small house made it feel huge and empty. No laughter. No little feet racing around. No clinking silverware, crinkling gift wrap or squeals of surprise.

I peered through the streaky glass of the sliding doors to my backyard, a window to a typical winter day in Michigan–gray and dreary. That’s how I felt too. The holidays were over and I was alone again.

On Christmas Eve, my house had overflowed with family–my three children, their spouses and my nine grandchildren. We spent the afternoon devouring appetizers and decorating cookies. My grandkids enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather, racing in and out to the backyard to play.

We ate a big, hearty dinner–a baked ham, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole and, for dessert, my specialty, cheesecake. Then we gathered around the tree in the living room to exchange gifts. I tried to keep it organized, but the excitement quickly descended into paper-shredding chaos.

Finally, we attended church with some very sleepy children.

The next afternoon, everyone went home. It felt unfair. Why couldn’t Christmas last?

A little housekeeping would distract me, I decided. Got to keep busy. First, those streaky glass doors. I grabbed a bottle of Windex and was poised to spray when the sun burst through the clouds. Light filled my backyard and streamed through the glass.

What I saw was my family, from the bottom, the tiny handprint of my 13-month-old grandson, to the top, the hand of his oldest cousin, who’d helped him slide the door. In between, the prints of all my kids and grandkids overlapped, tender mementos of our Christmas Eve joy.

I put down the Windex. The glass could wait. I’d hold onto my reminder of the love that surrounds me all throughout the year, a love that fills the silence.


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