I love Christmas. It’s truly one time of the year that as general practice people open their hearts, their pocketbooks and whatever they have to help fellow worldly travelers on this small insignificant rock sailing through the sea of infinite stars.
Many times it starts at home, with traditional songs, parties and gift-giving. In my childhood, we celebrated the season with a good old-fashioned traditional Swedish dinner, with both food and songs at my Uncle Don’s fabulous mansion that sat on a hill where you could look out over Cheyenne, Wyo., and see all the Christmas lights strung across hundreds of homes.
My Aunt Jan, an accomplished singer and piano player, would play the great grand piano in the main living room while the whole family, both Herbers and Randolphs sang (badly) various Christmas carols.
We would take turns trying to converse with the grand dame of the family, Great-grandma Carlson, as she would talk to us in her native Swedish, and we would try and figure out what she was talking about. Usually it was as simple as an object in a room, a name in Swedish or a simple observation of what it was she felt – but it was always something to look forward to, every year.
After the traditional reading from the Bible of the birth of Christ and the retelling of “The Night before Christmas,” we then would load up in the cars and head for midnight mass at the Catholic Cathedral in downtown Cheyenne.
Again more music, prayers and finally after mass we head for home, tired from the fun and excitement of the season and a night’s sleep cut short from the squeals of happy children landing on the bottom stairs and seeing all the presents Santa and his elves left under the Christmas tree.
Truly it was the season of joy, goodwill and peace toward everyone.
This is the way the holiday should be spent as my bothers and I grew apart, moved apart and started our own families. We simply grew up! While we tried to extend the family traditions, it is difficult because of distance and time. Our family lost Grandma Carlson, then her daughter Nana, and this past year I lost both Uncle Don and Aunt Jan within a week of each other.
We continue to try, each year, to do what we have done in the past – but it is not the same. But at the same time we have created new traditions our children will, we hope, see as fond memories and try to keep alive for yet another generation.
But as always, we also accept each other for who we are and what we are and with genuine love and respect and the understanding that we all are the same but also different.
To the memory of my lost friends and relatives – Merry Christmas and happiness in a great new year!