On Christmas day, our extended family on my mom's side would gather at our house for food, presents, and just celebrating family. It was always the four of us, my mom's parents, my aunt and her husband and kid, my great aunt and later on my other cousin and her kids and mom (my ex-aunt. My uncle was a fool to divorce her!). We'd get together and eat cookies until we thought we would explode, then go out sledding if there was any snow. After the second trip down the hill, we'd always lament that last cookie and the lack of a ski lift to get us back to the top.
December is very different now. My dad died six years ago the first weekend in December. I've also lost all my grandparents, a great aunt, an aunt and uncle on my dad's side, and my ex-aunt in the space of the last seven. Most of them in December/January. This year for Christmas, it's just going to be six of us. The empty spaces around the table say more than I ever could.
I miss my dad. So much that I can't stand to think about it. The grief, six years on, is still so raw that it threatens to rip me apart if I let it. So I do everything in my power to not think about it. I struggle desperately every year to keep spirits up and happy and alive because it would be so easy for those few of us left to just sink beneath those waves of self-defeat and depression. I insist on holding on to what traditions we have left. If we don't, our family will just unravel until there's nothing there.
I can honestly say that it's one of the few times I truly hate being single. Most times it doesn't bother me, but at this time of the year it tends to get to me. Having the support a significant other can offer is truly a gift. These days it's a gift I could use.