Tis the season to be jolly; that's what they say. Jolly is not the word that I would necessarily choose to describe the good feelings that I tend to experience at this time of year. It's more like a deep sense of well-being and contentment.
The other night at Butterfly's tree decorating party for our little clan of four (there are really six, but two were too far away to attend), I experienced these usual positive emotions, but I also experienced a sense of sadness and loss. You see, my mother made the smocked balls in the photo above, once per Christmas for much of the eighties and nineties. She made two each year: gave one to Cuppa and me and kept one for herself.
She was also planning for the future, for we have two daughters. When we all were to pass on, each girl would be left with one set of grandma's smocked balls. She enjoyed doing it and took a lot of pride in her work. In many ways, she did not seem to be a terribly giving person, but she enjoyed giving these crafts to us each year, and she enjoyed the idea that they would one day be given to her grandchildren. And I'm sure that deep in her heart, she was hoping that they wouldn't forget her, that they might remember grandma with some fondness.
I also remembered my dad that afternoon. He was a shy little fellow who sat in the background at our tree decorating parties. But every year, he would be prompted to adorn the tree with at least one Christmas ball when the tree-decorating was almost completed. Although he stayed in the background most of the time, I know that he enjoyed being included in our gatherings and adding his little contribution to the occasion.
My parents lived long lives, so I haven't been given to mourning their passing terribly much. I haven't felt lonely or empty very often, but I did feel some pangs of loss for a while Saturday afternoon when we were, once again, decorating the tree.