As we inch closer toward the hectic rush of Christmas, I find myself thinking about family and friends.
In reality, I often think about them. It doesn’t necessarily take a holiday for me to remember my maternal and paternal grandparents and childhood friends. It’s just that it seems they are on my mind a little more this time of the year.
Both Thanksgiving and Christmas naturally bring forth memories of family. To me that’s how it should be. While it’s been a few years now, I can vividly recall going to visit my maternal grandparents on Thanksgiving some years and to see my paternal grandparents others.
My maternal grandparents lived just down the road from us so that wasn’t a big trip. My paternal grandparents lived about an hour away, not the longest trek in the world, but certainly enough to know you had traveled and had you looking forward to stretching your legs once you arrived.
Thanksgiving always seemed a relaxed time for my family. I can remember thinking how it didn’t seem possible that a year had passed since we had all last gathered. Even as a youngster, time seemed to slip by faster than I liked.
Once Christmas Eve arrived, it would mean a return trip to my paternal grandparents. This usually took place in the late afternoon so you were really into the spirit of things by that point. While some years, the family gathering would be at an aunt and uncle’s house (I also remember us hosting the gathering from time to time), it just seemed more fitting when my grandparents were the hosts.
On Christmas morning the ritual was always the same. We made the short drive to Pop and Nanny’s for our second Christmas family gathering. A Christmas breakfast feast was served and more presents opened, more laughing done and more quality family time enjoyed.
While we continue to carry on the tradition of a Christmas breakfast meal to this day, it isn’t quite the same without Pop and Nanny. It’s not that the food isn’t as good or the presents aren’t as plentiful. It’s just without them there, a big pillar is missing from the family foundation.
I don’t live in my hometown anymore, but it never leaves my mind either. That’s especially true this time of year. Remembering family members, as well as childhood friends, who are no longer with us, admittedly puts somewhat of a damper on things.
Yet, I know none of them would want me to not enjoy the holidays to the fullest. I try to think about them as a distraction from a hectic work schedule as well. The rigors of putting out a newspaper are something few outside of the business understand and it makes me appreciate the holidays more. To have a few moments to enjoy family and friends and take a break, even if only for a little while, is certainly worth it.
There’s still plenty to do before Christmas arrives this year. I have more Christmas cards to mail, a few more presents to buy and more papers to put out. Yet, I am already looking forward to my return trip home.
I’ll be thinking of my grandparents and those memories of past holidays when we were all together. I’ll be thinking of childhood friends who are no longer with us, but whose memories live on.
As I write this, the sky is overcast with a true winter feel on the outside. The weather really doesn’t matter though. The holidays are here. We should all be thankful for what we have, who we have and be willing to tell them we are thankful for them. It’s something we can never do enough.
Chris Bridges is an editor with Mainstreet Newspapers. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.