I’m seated at my desk at the family homestead in Connecticut, where I’m being polite and waiting for my parents to wake up so we can celebrate the birth of the Baby Santa. It’s partially my fault they’re sleeping in, as I was the one who insisted we all stay up late last night and watch a little bit of a movie.
Every year, I think about how lucky I am that I even get to come home. Some people’s parents move once the kids leave the house. Some people have lost their parents. Me, I think about my Spanish father. His father died while away at sea, at the time my grandmother was giving birth. My dad left Spain and then came to Argentina with his still devastated mother who never quite got over the pain of loss. They landed in Buenos Aires and lived in poverty, but he worked his way through school and helped to support her. He got into medical school, and ultimately moved to the United States to do his residency.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like to spend these holidays alone in a strange land, a family spread out over two continents and knowing they can’t afford the phone calls. There were some who went out of their way for him and had him along. But sometimes that makes you feel even more alone because you’re presented with an image of what you’re missing.
It’s possible that in the scheme of things, that experience helps someone understand why it’s important to have a family, why it’s important to populate your life with people you truly love. You think about how you never want your own children to experience what you have experienced. It also gives you a moment to think about what kind of family you want to have. Any idiot can have children — in fact, many idiots do this all the time — but not everyone can have a family. Here my dad succeeded. No more lonely winter nights. No more mornings silent.
I’m lucky. I know he knows he’s lucky. But we also both know luck has nothing to do with it. It likely has more to do with the grace and blessing similar to those which guided a miracle over 2,000 years ago in a place far away. That’s better than luck because it holds the promise of steady guidance rather than sheer chance. I pray it stays with us, and I’m joyful it likely will.
I hope your day is as merry as ours. Merry Christmas.
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