Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Happy Kwanzaa! Since this is our first Christmas together, I should probably tell you about the annual Medica/Sturm Family’s holiday celebrations. For as long as I can remember, we’ve celebrated Christmas day with my parents’ families in our house on Cheyenne Ct (Pittsburgh, PA), which we moved into when I was four and Nicky was two. Being in the same house for the last twenty-three years, I still stumble upon flashbacks of Christmas Pasts: Leaving Cookies, Milk & Carrots for Santa & His Reindeer; 7am Wake-Up Calls to see what Santa left under the Tree; Velvet Dresses, Long Red Dresscoats & Head Full of Curls to Attend Christmas Morning Mass…
But two Christmases stand out in my mind: The first was 4-5 years ago when, for the first time ever, my Grandma & Pap were not present at our house filled with Sturms & Medicas. Pap was in the hospital and Grandma, being the loyal wife that she always was/is, wouldn’t leave his side. So we went to them. All of us. After dinner, we piled in the cars and drove downtown to open presents with Pap & Grandma. I can still remember driving down Rt. 8 in my uncle’s car and thinking about how Christmas didn’t feel the same this year without Pap & Grandma. For the most part, they are the true reason that we still gather together every December 25th. Why my cousins and I, no matter where we live, come together to spend time with our Grandma, our parents, and the rest of our family. Sure the food is good, and I know that they especially love my mom’s cookies, but I know that it’s about being with the family on this day every year. Sure it was more fun when we were all kids, but, speaking for everyone, we still all find joy in coming together each year and catching up on one another’s adventures…and seeing what Grandma bought us this year.
(Note: She admits that she can hardly see and while her taste is actually quite decent, she tends to pick out stuff at Macy’s that there are 3 versions of: One for me, One for Kelly, and One for Heather.)
Last year was a somber Christmas as we spent our first holiday without Pap. While it was difficult for all of us, Grandma was, of course, affected the most. Like every other day since illness first struck him 11 years ago, Grandma made it known that her purpose was to take care of Pap- even letting her own health deteriorate to serve her husband’s needs. Without him to take care of, for the first holiday during their 60 year marriage, sadness could not be mistaken on that frail little woman with a heart of gold. Last Christmas wasn’t easy for any of us, especially since it was the first time we were all together since Pap’s funeral but we made it through the best we could. That’s all anyone can do in that situation.
This year, we mustered up our strength to get through another Christmas without Pap. We celebrated Christmas together with Grandma, aware that with her health decreasing each day that this could very well be her last Christmas with us. So we did what any family would do…we spent the day smiling, laughing, giving hugs, sharing stories, and above all, loving one another. Between you and me, this family has faced its obstacles (which can be understood by explaining that 5 of the 6 Sturm children are female) but seeing that they can all come together to celebrate the holiday proves that there is love & kindness in their hearts..especially on Christmas.
This Christmas, today, marked the first time I’d seen most of my family since last Christmas. After living in Pittsburgh for most of my life, it’s hard to imagine that a year had passed without spending any holidays, birthdays or the occasional Friday night pizza party at Grandma’s house. But that’s what makes Christmas so special for me (now). To be honest, this morning I woke up groggy wishing that I was back in Chicago spending the holiday at the children’s hospital with the kids and their families. However, walking downstairs and finding my mom and dad in the kitchen I knew that spending this time with my family is exactly where I needed to be.
Even though I’ve spent several other holidays in Ohio and Chicago, I’ve yet to miss a Christmas in Pittsburgh. Today as nostalgia set in, wonder did too. What if one day I’m not able to spend Christmas with my family? One day I may be spending holiday with another family (boyfriend’s or, dare I say, fiance’s or husband’s) and therefore, have to make the choice to be somewhere else (gasp, with my children). Yes, blog friends, these thoughts are staring to tally up in my mind. Looking at photos of my friends’ kids today and hearing that little Georgie took his first steps (YAY GEORGIE!!), I cannot help but wonder what do my Christmas Futures hold? Truth be told, there’s no use thinking about it now and therefore I think it’s best to spend my time enjoying present-day Christmas time and remembering the joys of my Christmas Pasts.
So from my family to yours, Happy Holidays! I hope that you appreciate this time with you family as much as I do. And if you’re away from family and loved ones right now, I know it’s difficult. I do. But promise me that when your next chance comes, you’ll hug them bigger and love them more because you remember just how much you miss them when they’re not around.