Well, I made it through the Christmas/28th birthday and I am feeling...exhausted. I spent the holiday working, eating and visiting people and feel now that I might just want to skip the post-birthday celebration (which won't likely be much of a celebration) and curl up in my bed with a book. This year, the birthday wasn't nearly as debaucherous or eventful as birthdays past, but it also wasn't as upsetting. For the last 5 years, I have been pretty much trying to pretend that it was just another day. Avoiding thoughts of my grandmother's death and conveniently being busy when it was time to attend church with my family. Because, let's face it, church is where my grandmother's ashes are. This year, while I didn't attend church and did reread my grandmother's obituary, I felt at peace. And not just because it has been five years, but because I realized this season that, even though my Christmas memories are not all sugar and spice and everything nice, they are mine and I can make better ones.
I worked yesterday morning at the nursing home. I volunteered a month ago, thinking that it might be a good way to get my mind off of everything and not be all over-emotional and generally cranky. The fact is that the nursing home, the people there, make me happy. Even if they are coming to the ends of their lives and are sometimes completely aggravated and hard to deal with. But I like to be the person who makes their days a little bit brighter. I ask about their lives and I actually listen to their stories, which is more than I can say for most. When Marie remembered that it was my birthday and told me that she had a gift for me, my heart swelled. Here is a woman whose husband is dying and she has spent the last month and a half adjusting to being put in a home. Here is a woman who has broken her hip and can no longer live in her own house because she needs constant care. Here is a woman who, despite all of this, thinks of me on my birthday and actually makes the effort to get me a gift.
"Thank you so much, Marie, for thinking of me on my birthday."
"Honey, I do think about you. All the time. You have been so wonderful to me."
So my gift, the one that I hold the most precious, are those words. And somehow, hearing them, made me feel a little bit better about all of the sadness that Christmas brings to me.