I stopped by the veterinarian's office this week to pick up some food for my cat. While I was there, I got into a conversation with one of the workers, named Alma, about the changing dynamics of Christmas.
You'll know why hearing her name made the hair on my arms stand on end if you've read Mercy Inn.
She told me her mother passed away this spring, so this will be her first Christmas without her. That led to a conversation about how all of us have to adapt to new places and new traditions and different (or fewer) people from one Christmas celebration to the next.
My Christmas celebrations have certainly changed over the years.
My parents divorced when I was just eight years old. That led to two separate Christmas celebrations. My dad's side of the family met at his parents on Christmas Eve. And when I became an adult, my mom's side of the family met at her place on Christmas Day.
At my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve, we laughed, ate more fudge and homemade cookies than a person should ever eat in one sitting and opened more gifts than any person should be blessed to receive.
At my Mom's house on Christmas Day, we laughed, ate a ton of food, opened more gifts than any person should be blessed to receive and watched football.
Then my grandfather died and everything changed. I think we continued to celebrate on Christmas Eve there for a few more years, but eventually, that tradition died and Grandma started coming with us to my mother's house on Christmas Day. And we made many more great memories there.
But Christmas Eve never quite felt the same.
Then my dad died.
The next couple of Christmas celebrations were difficult. But we adapted, because, what choice did we have?
Then my grandmother died.
As my family got smaller and smaller, we found new ways to create great memories at my mom's house on Christmas Day. One year, we watched video of Christmas celebrations from the past - from back when my grandma was still alive. Another year, we watched Rocky II, Rocky III, and Rocky IV, cheering all the way. And one year, we watched Christmas movies.
And that was Alma's point. We adapt at Christmas because we have no choice, but as we do, we find new traditions and new memories.
I pray that whatever situation you find yourself in this Christmas (if you celebrate the holiday), that you will find healing from your losses while also finding new reasons to laugh and be grateful. I'll be thinking about you.
You won't hear from me next week. But I'll be back on December 30. Have a merry Christmas!
Now, let's get to this week's thoughts about slowing down and living deeper:
The Kindle version of Mercy Inn: A Christmas Novella is just $0.99 for the next few days. Pick up a copy if you like cozy Christmas stories. And the end of the e-book, you'll have a chance to pick up a free 8,000-word short story about what happens to the three main characters after they leave Mercy Inn.
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Have a great weekend!
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.