Now Playing: Christmas Heartache by Andrea MacEachern
The most peaceful time of year, for me, has always been Christmas.
close my eyes, I can see my mother baking homemade sweets in the
I can smell the turkey cooking in the oven. I can feel the tinsel
fingers as my sisters and I carelessly toss it all onto our twelve-foot
tree. I can hear Boney M’s Christmas album blaring and the sound of
door bell ringing as guests pile into the front porch.
There were always so many people around, and with these people came
traditions. On Christmas Eve, after one of many Turkey Dinners, my
sisters, grandparents and myself would pile into my family’s mini-van
for a long evening drive to look at all the Christmas lights. By
we were in church for Midnight Mass. I can almost hear the choir now,
peaceful. When we arrived home, we kids were ready to go to bed in
anticipation of Santa’s visit that night, but not after one last
tradition. Everyone was allowed to open one gift that night, then it
off to bed to be well rested for the next day and another round of
visits, meals and presents.
Christmas in my family went like this every year, until the year 2000.
was the first year we spent without my grandparents. My grandmother
passed away suddenly the previous summer. After the shock of losing
grandfather’s health began to fail, and he was admitted to the hospital
A few days before Christmas, we realized that my grandfather had been
confined to a hospital bed for too long, so we decided that we would
surprise him by taking him out for a few days so he could enjoy
with his family. Everything was going as planned. The day before
Eve, he was in high spirits when we told him he would be with us at
next day. Dinner was already in mid-preparation, and we had a room
for him at our house.
The next morning, my dad left for the hospital to pick my grandfather
When he entered his room, he could sense that something wasn’t right.
was quite and withdrawn as he just stared straight ahead. I guess my
sensed that Papa wouldn’t be leaving that hospital because he stayed
him until he turned around to look out the window one last time and
passed away. Christmas in my family would never be the same again, and
now found myself trying to make peace with god for having taken away my
beloved grand-father on the most peaceful day of the year. I spent
Christmas day in my room, weeping over my loss. I don’t remember going
sleep, but I remember waking up to a sound I hadn’t heard in a long
knew it sounded familiar, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. It
the room somewhere, and when I discovered what it was, chills went down
spine. The sound was coming from an alarm clock that my grandfather
given me years before. The eerie thing was that clock had not worked
five or six years, and the time on it was 11:30 PM. Immediately, I
this was a sign from my grandfather because every year at 11:30 we are
making our way to Midnight Mass. I believe he wanted us to carry on
normally would. As I walked in the newly fallen snow to the small
the hill, I knew everything was going to be alright. I knew my
was there with me, and suddenly, I felt at peace.