the day after

My father wore a ring on the pinky of his left hand — a star sapphire set in white gold. The word for him in his time was “dapper.” Today is the 22nd anniversary of his death. The Christmas holiday has often been a trial for this family.
Surprisingly, this Christmas was not so bad. There were no arguments. My brother even did the dishes. My mother said it was the best Christmas she’s had in years. She’s right.
This afternoon, she sat at her organ and played Christmas Carols. Then, I sat her in front of my computer screen and linked over from Jack Bogdanski’s blog in Portland, OR, to a video of the St. Stanislaus choir in that city doing a program of Polish Koledy. She watched, teary-eyed, remembering how her brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins would get together every Christmas Eve and sing those same songs. They had beautiful voices and knew how to harmonize. My generation of cousins would gather around and listen. I still remember many of those Polish lyrics.
My mother misses the big family that all used to live within a five-block area where I grew up. Now, there are very few left in her generation, and those of my generation have scattered. We spent much of the day today calling all over the state — and even out-of-state — so that she could wish what relatives there are a Merry Christmas.
I miss my kids a lot –-b!X across the country there in Portland, my daughter and her family in Massachusetts. It just doesn’t seem right not to have been with them all this holiday.
Who knows what will happen in the next year. Maybe next Christmas will be the best yet.