There is one common thread among all of my favorite memories of holidays: family. As a young boy I loved going to my grandparents for Thanksgiving and Christmas while joining with 6 aunts and uncles, 6 cousins, and other relatives from my grandfathers side of the family. The boys, of which I was the youngest, would go outside and play some kind of sport whether it be basketball, baseball, football, or golf while the girls, well...I don't know what they did. These events most often took place at my grandparent's house but sometimes would be at our house or another aunt and uncle. At the center of every family get together was a large meal attributed to all the families and generally prepared by the aunts and Mema.
As we got older the cousins got married and their spouses were added to the mix and not too long after that we all started having kiddos of our own. In recent years the "whole" family has only gotten together during the moments of sadness, the passing of our matriarch "Mema", and most recently the death of my own mother. Such is life. We all grow up. We get busy with our lives and time moves on. Not to worry, we do still get together albeit not all at the same time. Just this past weekend I saw my mom's two brothers and their wives, 1 cousin, and 2 of another cousin's children. Of course we "see" each other on Facebook and do our best to keep up with all the happenings.
As I think about all these things and the holiday season coming up I am painfully reminded of a huge hole in my heart and a big difference that will be felt this year. You see, this is a year of firsts. From now to next July each event will labeled as the first _______ since mama died. I always looked forward to pulling up to the house and walking through the front door, finding my mom usually in the kitchen, and giving her a big hug as she pulled herself away from whatever the next meal or project was. I will always remember the way she played with my Nadia. I was looking forward to watching her continue to do so as she would spoil my children as all good grandparents are supposed to do. (I had another grandparent explain to me the other day that it was in the fine print of the grandparent contract!) One of the things that brought me the most grief at her passing was that my children would not know their Gamma. I am pleased to say that at least for now Nadia will still name her in our family picture at my and Becca's wedding.
We all miss you, Mama! Dance, jump, and sing, and say, "hey" to Jesus for me.