Commentary by Bill Buchanan
Last weekend, a woman who works at my newspaper in Tennessee lost her mother. Christy’s mother had been ill for some time, and her condition had recently worsened. My heart goes out to her. She is a valued employee and was a dedicated and loving daughter. I know her mother’s death will be especially tough on Christy, facing the first holiday season without her mom around.
I lost both of my parents many years ago. My daddy suffered an extended illness; we watched a once vibrant man waste away to nothing as cancer wracked his body. Twenty-five years later, my mother died of heart failure. She battled cancer valiantly, but repeated chemotherapy treatments bled the strength from her heart, and she died holding my hand.
There is no easy way to lose someone you love. And though time, good memories, and the family who are still with you ease the pain, there are still moments I feel the emptiness in my life without the loved ones I have lost.
It is easy to get caught up in the rush of the holiday season. There are parties to attend, shopping to finish, gifts to wrap, plans to make and trips to take. Each year Christmas seems to come earlier, and with it, more expectations. We are stressed and harried and sometimes ready for the whole thing to just be over.
But then, something brings you back to reality and reminds you of what is truly important. For me, that came in the form of a message my sister sent last week. The message said, “Jack (her husband) told me about Ava’s idea for the adults not to exchange gifts, and I think that’s fine. I have one request from you for Christmas…come to Elba! With our aging and scattering children, it may be rare when we can all be together. It would be really special if you could also be here.”
So, Ava and I will spend Christmas Day with her brothers. Ava will fix a big meal, and we will spend the day as we have for the past three years. The next day we will travel to see my sister. And we will enjoy more good food, and I will kid my nieces and nephews and say silly things that will make my college-age niece, Meredith, giggle like a little girl. My sister will probably tell the story about how when we were kids, I took the head off her favorite doll and put a bumble-bee inside, and how she ran screaming to our mother to tell on me. We will talk about those we loved who are now gone, but remain with us in spirit.
What better gift can you receive at Christmas than being with those you love? If you ever doubt that, just ask someone who can’t.
May you have what you treasure, but more importantly, treasure what you have.