When I was very growing up, the whole family, including my gran, aunts, uncles and cousins, used to come to our house for dinner nearly every Christmas Day – There were a couple of years when we all went out to a local hotel or restaurant for dinner, but that was the exception rather than the rule.
Over the years the numbers gathering at Mum and Dad’s have dwindled significantly, as my cousins grew up and had their own families, and older members of the family passed away. For a number of years there was still four then five of us for Christmas dinner, as there was always Mum, Dad, Aunt Mae and me and then after I got married, Sandy joined us too. Although when Sandy’s Mum was still alive we usually had Christmas lunch with her and then joined with my Mum, Dad and Aunt Mae early evening. After Sandy’s Mum died, we, along with my Aunt Mae, we went to Mum and Dad’s for Christmas dinner.
Probably 3 or 4 years ago was when we first when back down to it being just 4 of us for dinner, as my Aunt Mae refused to come out her house to join us for Christmas dinner. As she’s now living in a local care home she’s obviously not able to have the option to join us.
Earlier this year, my Dad moved into a local nursing home as Mum was no longer able to care for him at home any more. That of course means we’ve been another person down this Christmas…so this year there was only three of us!
I know Mum has found this year particularly difficult as it’s the first year in over 55 years of marriage that Dad’s not been at home for Christmas. It’s sad how life moves on and people who are a huge part of our lives are no longer part of it. However it wouldn’t be life if the people we know and the circumstances we find ourselves in remained unchanged for long.
So however many of you there was for Christmas Day this year, I pray that while there may have been empty spaces at your table where once loved ones sat, you are happy in the knowledge that they are in heaven with God now, whole and pain-free.
Never forget those who are no longer alive, but have had an impact on your life, whether it was just for a brief moment or for many years, because they will still be watching over you, and will know they are on your mind.