My Christmas ask for 2020 is a mantle for above our fireplace. I’ve already submitted my special request to Santa that he build it – and bring it early for placement THIS year. There’s still time; cross your fingers for me. 🤞🏼
I don’t know why this is my want this year. We’ve gotten by with creative stocking placement forever. But this year … well, it’s certainly different and requires all the comforts one can find.
Today, specifically, marks the birthdays of my sister and my sister-in-law. We lost them both just months apart 11 years ago. One anticipated and the other unexpectedly, both leaving voids never to be filled – losses subdued through the years but that pull you back and can sweep your breath away with a sudden memory.
They were each the older sister of our respective sibling groups, just as I and hubs are each the baby. My sister and I were 10.5 years apart almost to the day, and she always told me she suffered through three brothers waiting for me.
Selective memory idealizes our time together, I’m sure, but she absolutely mothered me when mine was absent and literally took me in when my relationship with my father finally crumbled. For me, my sister was home.
The timeline of our relationship together would resemble Morse code, but she was a constant in life’s significant moments for me. She stood as a by-proxy parent much of my 2nd or 3rd grade year. And in my junior year of high school when I joined her family, she made a stocking for me to seamlessly add to their mantle. The first year my boyfriend now hubs spent Christmas with us, she stayed up late to do the same – Santa was always a night owl.
The year she died, I couldn’t bring myself to delete her last voicemail to me. While I never listened to it again, it was a comfort knowing it was still there. And when we returned home that first Christmas without her, my oldest’s forever stocking hung in my sister’s home.
The following year I conjured her knack for craft to painstakingly but lovingly sew my second son’s stocking and hang in our home his first Christmas. My husband, a hands down better seamstress than myself, was there to lend a hand and a hug as I laughed, cried and cursed through both the sewing process and the flood of memories. I did it again three years later after my daughter was born, this time with a lot less crying but probably as many choice words.
I’m sad my littles never met her, and that my big really only recalls her through photos. But this winter solstice, what would have been her 54th birthday, I’m eased by the memories I do have of her. I smile knowing that this year – her and my sister-in-law’s birthdays align with the first sighting of the “Christmas Star” in more than 800 years.
While I realize it’s due to the power of celestial science, I like to think it’s their way of reassuring us that the coming year will be brighter and they’re still with us through all the firsts.