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Stories
Friday, 27 July 2007

Now Playing: Christmas Heartache by Andrea MacEachern


The most peaceful time of year, for me, has always been Christmas.
When I
close my eyes, I can see my mother baking homemade sweets in the
kitchen.
I can smell the turkey cooking in the oven.  I can feel the tinsel
between my
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
the
door bell ringing as guests pile into the front porch.

There were always so many people around, and with these people came
many
traditions. On Christmas Eve, after one of many Turkey Dinners, my
parents,
sisters, grandparents and myself would pile into my family’s mini-van
and go
for a long evening drive to look at all the Christmas lights. By
12:00 AM,
we were in church for Midnight Mass. I can almost hear the choir now,
so
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
Christmas
tradition. Everyone was allowed to open one gift that night, then it
was
off to bed to be well rested for the next day and another round of
holiday
visits, meals and presents.

Christmas in my family went like this every year, until the year 2000.
That
was the first year we spent without my grandparents. My grandmother
had
passed away suddenly the previous summer. After the shock of losing
her, my
grandfather’s health began to fail, and he was admitted to the hospital
in
October.

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
Christmas
with his family. Everything was going as planned. The day before
Christmas
Eve, he was in high spirits when we told him he would be with us at
home the
next day. Dinner was already in mid-preparation, and we had a room
ready
for him at our house.

The next morning, my dad left for the hospital to pick my grandfather
up.
When he entered his room, he could sense that something wasn’t right.
Papa
was quite and withdrawn as he just stared straight ahead. I guess my
dad
sensed that Papa wouldn’t be leaving that hospital because he stayed
with
him until he turned around to look out the window one last time and
quietly
passed away. Christmas in my family would never be the same again, and
I
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
to
sleep, but I remember waking up to a sound I hadn’t heard in a long
time. I
knew it sounded familiar, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. It
was in
the room somewhere, and when I discovered what it was, chills went down
my
spine. The sound was coming from an alarm clock that my grandfather
had
given me years before. The eerie thing was that clock had not worked
in
five or six years, and the time on it was 11:30 PM. Immediately, I
knew
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
like we
normally would. As I walked in the newly fallen snow to the small
church on
the hill, I knew everything was going to be alright. I knew my
Grandfather
was there with me, and suddenly, I felt at peace.

_________________________________________________
____

Posted by liamet at 7:27 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 27 July 2007 7:35 AM EDT
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