December 13, 1997 was a defining moment in my life. I was leaving for school, my dad was giving me a ride since I was headed to the University of Georgia School Art Symposium. We were walking to the car when he said, “your mom called, your Pawpa passed.” As I always did, I held my tears. I never cried in front of my family. But when I got to school, I just lost it. I can very vividly remember every moment of that day and most every day that followed until the funeral.
My Pawpa always made Christmas special. Our family gatherings were large, often chaotic, but Pawpa always found a way to bring order to it all. I can still remember every feature of him, hunched over in his Santa hat, grabbing the presents to be distributed. It absolutely broke my heart when he passed. And Christmas was never the same after.
For the last 13 years, I have tried to avoid December. Something always seemed to happen: my Mustang was hit and turned into a three-wheeler, I had walking pneumonia, lost a job, etc. I just found it best to try and lie low and see if it would forget about me. Despite the few good things I thought I was doing, karma always seemed to run me over from whatever I had done in a past life.
This year, I finally feel like I have found the spirit of Christmas again. Some amazing people helped me pull off a Christmas miracle, and I have my own little miracle to hold come Christmas morning. I had fun going shopping for my adopted families, spending time with my friends, singing Christmas carols, and even wearing my Santa hat. I’m even excited to be introducing my little man to all his aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time, though the drive is a bit more than I would like. And while I’m still sad that Pawpa isn’t with me, I feel like I have sort of taken up where he left off.
So to all my friends out there (both of you, ), Merry Christmas!