When I was a little girl, Christmas was my favorite time of year like many little girls and boys for that matter. Between the presents, the good eats, the presents, the family celebration, the presents…who could help but marvel at all of the joy (and presents) Christmas brought to every door step, right?
Christmas to me was full of chocolate, stockings, presents, and my Oma’s cooking. As I am German, Oma means Grandma, but it also meant 2-3 rooms full of presents when I was a kid. I never knew how Santa did it and certainly as I grew older, I never knew how my Oma did it, because every year that we spent Christmas at her home was truly a miracle when I look back. She gave us happiness, her happiness, comprised of rooms full of presents of which came straight from her heart and meager salary.
My Oma was a perfume maker. She spent hours working on concoctions to create perfume for others of which she could not afford herself. And yet, the money she made was spent on a simple lifestyle and mounds of presents for her grandchildren. An immigrant from Germany who lost her husband in the war before my mother was born. My Oma came to this country anyway, found herself a job, and then a life. She then went to raising my mother on her own. Now flash forward to my life as a little girl and then as an adult.
When I was 35 years old, with four little children at my feet, I lost my husband to cancer. It was the most difficult moment of my life. And when Christmas arrived, it was even harder.
That first Christmas without my husband was achingly tough. I put up the Christmas tree because my children needed it. Never was there a question that I wouldn’t do so nor give them the Christmas they deserved, but the effort it took from me was extraordinary. However, it was the memory of my Oma that got me through.
That which she overcame, I was now facing in a different way. That which she did for me, I needed to emulate for my children.
You see, that is what family is all about. That is what Christmas is all about….giving more than receiving even when the “giving” is painful. That is the true SPIRIT of Christmas and of life, truthfully.
The real gift my Oma gave to me was wisdom. It might have come by a room full of presence but it occupies a life full of love, possibility, and hope. Keep this in mind throughout your holiday Season.
Happy Holidays Everyone!