Monday, December 23, 2013

On Gratitude at Christmas

A mouse ate our stockings. 
Not my son's stocking, thankfully. That was stored in a sturdy plastic tub, along with most of the tree ornaments. All the other stockings, which I hand made, including ones for each cat AND the goldfish, well, they were folded neatly in a cardboard box, and made a lovely little home for some industrious rodent, who chewed his way in there and made a glorious nest for himself. 
Ah well. The image of a little mouse curling up in a Christmas stocking is cute enough to offset the pang of rage at seeing all my hand embroidery chewed and wadded up. They were just stockings, after all. I have felt slightly guilty that there hasn't been time to replace them. But they are a tidy little metaphor for the year over all.

We've had our losses. Losses of big, important and precious things that we will miss forever. We lost my husband's grandmother last winter. We lost my cousin the day before my birthday. His son started kindergarten the day after the funeral.
 A month later, just as I was starting to have success with my own business venture, my husband lost his job. It seems trivial in comparison, but it was still a definite tick in the "cons" category of 2013.
We still have a family member with stable but terminal cancer. So far, everything has been going well, but that could change at any moment, and when it does, it will only be for the worse.
 None of our losses were a surprise. Knowing what we were going to lose has only made me more grateful for the things we still have, and the people that I will get to spend my time with this holiday. There might not be enough funds to go as overboard as we have in the past, but my husband is still here, and my little son with us. We will each have gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. All of our parents and siblings and nieces and nephews are here with us, and have warm homes and warm meals and gifts to enjoy. We will even get to spend the day with most of them.   

In the last few days, over eight inches of snow fell on our little village. Fluffy, flaky white snow, of the kind found in snow globes, and Christmas movies, and the daydreams of people who live in warm climates, and have the luxury to imagine perfect snow.  Our Christmas snow this year is beautiful and sparkly and dusted across the branches of trees porch railings and windowsills. It is mounded along the roadside, still white and crisp, making everything look festive and simple and clean. In so many ways, this has been the year of dreams coming true here, with promises of more to come in the new year. Ben and I have both had successes in our professional lives that we can't help but be grateful for, even if there is still a long way to go to get where we want to be.
Sometimes, we just have to take a moment to see all that we have, and let it overwhelm us, and be happy for the time we had with someone, not just sad for the time we lost when they left. It's been very hard for me to set goals for the end of the year. But it has been easy to be grateful, so I'm sticking with that, for now. A mouse ate our stockings. But there is still one left. And we have time to make new ones.

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