Thoughts on Christmas 2005

So, how was your Christmas?

This year the usual shuttling from house to house ended as we decided to take things at a more leisurely pace. With work barring a full out celebration, Kerrie and I moved from family to family by the day instead of by the hour.

My father came over Tuesday for a Christmas dinner that also doubled as a promised “thank you for helping us haul rocks, branches, and dirt to the dump” meal. Christmas Eve was spent with Kerrie’s family where egg rolls and oyster stew filled me up before a late night shift at the Relay center. Christmas day was at my mothers, at least until 2 when I went home and took a nap.

All in all, I found Christmas to be a little more fulfilling than it has in the past. There’s a lot to be said about relaxing and enjoying your time without rushing from place to place. We’ve vowed to cut rushing out of our diet, and we successfully made our holidays this year fit our schedule.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’ve got to fit everything into one day. That’s poppycock. We managed to spread the Christmas cheer, a cheer that I unexpectedly found emanating from my mind in mid-November, over the entire week. It was great.

The only thing that hampered my Christmas was the knowledge that my grandfather isn’t doing as well as we all would expect. His bout with cancer is certainly taking a lot out of him. They’ve given up on it being operable – that was the case back in the fall – and now they’re just trying to make his life comfortable for the rest of his time on the earth.

It’s been incredibly trying for us in Sioux Falls. We’re hundreds of miles away from the situation, and we feel helpless – as if we couldn’t assist even if we wanted to. It’s hard to see a man that was such a strong influence in my life brought down to such a weakened state, but it’s even worse hearing about it via a phone line that betrays his actual condition.

My grandfather sounded great when I talked to him on Christmas. He was in a good mood, he didn’t sound tired or in pain, and for a few minutes I had myself fooled that everything was going to be okay and that he’d be with us forever, just like I had when I was younger and hadn’t really grasped the idea of dying.

I wrote him a letter a few weeks ago telling him all that I’ve wanted to tell him since he was diagnosed. Believe it or not, but I’m a complete shut-in when it comes to communicating through any medium aside from writing, so I had to take the easy way and spell out exactly what he had meant to me. He told me on Christmas that it was the first time I’d made him cry. I didn’t bother telling him that his disease had been bringing me to tears off and on for the past ten months.

We’ve got something special planned for him that I can’t divulge just yet for fear that he’ll hop on the Internet and the surprise would be revealed. I do know that all he wants in life right now is to be around his family. I can also say that one of the only things I want right now is for him to be peaceful and comfortable.

As of today he’s back in the hospital. My grandmother is a tired wreck. My aunt is keeping things going in Idaho while my mother is doing what she can here in Sioux Falls.

When people ask me if I got everything I wanted for Christmas, I usually say, “Yes, I got cash. I don’t trust Santa Clause with my personal shopping.” Of course, this hides the truth – the only thing I truly desired for Christmas was something that was impossible: for my “grandpa” to be well, for him to live on and continue being that strong pillar that I’ve always braced myself upon.

Not even Santa could wrangle that up.

This was lovingly handwritten on December 26th, 2005