Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Family at Christmas!

I've struggled with whether or not to write this post, it's like a fight inside me but I feel that the need to put it all out there for the world is something that I can't control, it's almost like the Lord is pushing me to do this and I don't know why, but who am I to question right?

It's going to be a long one, a lot of venting so I apologize in advance, and if you're still here reading at the end, then Bless you.

Christmas for me used to be absolutely magical and it still is to some extent, but I've noticed as I've grown older and as family members have passed away, it's become one of the most difficult times of the year. One I look forward to for the sake of my children and for myself too in a way, but mostly, one that I cringe about and find myself fighting back tears constantly. It's hard being thousands of miles away from family and having just the memories of what it used to be like with me and my brothers running around, laughing and playing together, everything seemed perfect.

So here I sit today at 34 years old, reminiscing about family Christmases where my grandfather Julio was present, he was such a joy, he made everyone laugh and was just that light in the family. He is no longer with us and I miss him terribly during the holidays.

My greatgrandmother Ema, oh where do I begin? This amazing little lady was the rock in the family, the one constant there for me.....she lived with us and when both my parents used to work, it was her that got us up for school in time, fed us, took care of us, cooked and cleaned and did it all. I remember sitting in the kitchen with a cup of tea while she told me stories of how life was for her as a child born in 1906, the struggles she went through, the death of her mother when she was 4 years old, the suicide of her father when she was 13 years old and how she found him, and all the other little things. I sat fascinated by her stories. Unfortunately she is also no longer with us and the pain of not having her around is just more than I can say.

Same goes for my other grandfather Antonio and my Uncle Carlos, both wonderful men who unfortunately I didn't get to enjoy as much as I would have liked because they lived overseas.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that at this time of the year, my eyes fill with tears and I yearn to be with them, to see them one last time, to laugh with them and enjoy their company. It's hard, it's extremely hard.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because the past two days I've been feeling really down, it seems to hit me around the 22nd of December and goes right through until the day after Christmas, it's a tough couple of days where I smile and put on a brave face while inside my heart is breaking.

But they're not the only people I miss, I miss my family in South Africa and after having the joy of spending a month with them back in May, it just hurts even more, it's like an old wound was reopened. I got to embrace my brothers again and my little nieces and nephews. I would give ANYTHING to be near them today.

I know, this post is all soppy and miserable, not at all my usual blogging style is it?

One of the reasons I felt the need to post this is because on Sunday night I lay in bed watching the movie "Click", it's about Michael (Adam Sandler) who is so busy with work that he neglects his family, he doesn't have time for them. He goes to Bath Bed and Beyond and gets a Universal Remote for his home but what he doesn't know is that it actually controls his life. He can pause, he can fast forward, he can go back in time. With all the fast forwarding he does to just get through his days he ends up missing a whole year of his life with his family and in a sense looses them. He misses the death of his father which really devastates him, watching him trying desperately to deal with the fact that he wasted so much time and never told his family how much he loves them, was sad, to say the least.

I watched the movie and it hit me hard that we are so busy with stupid things nowadays that a lot of times we push aside our families, we take it for granted that they'll be there everyday. But what if they aren't? What if you wake up tomorrow and they're gone? What then?

My emotions were still raw from watching this movie and last night I again was watching tv, the Season Finale of "Little People, Big World" when Mike, their family friend suddenly dies of a heart attack. I cried.....no actually I bawled, that ugly cry where your face contorts and you look absolutely horrible. I felt like a friend of mine had passed away, you get so used to seeing someone on TV, it's hard when they die. But I sat there and wondered, why am I crying? I don't know these people personally, it shouldn't affect me that much.

But it does, because it makes me think of my own family and how devastating it would be to me if they passed away.

It's so easy to get caught up in the here and now and the smallest insignificant things that we allow into our lives, that make us fight and say harsh words, that make us do stupid things and make horrible choices. The kind of things that we allow to fester, to cloud our judgement, to make us forget that the people we are fighting with are the same ones that we love unconditionally, that we spent our whole lives loving and laughing with, the same people we would do ANYTHING for.

We push all that deep inside and in it's place we allow the bad, the unimportant stuff to stay.

Something like this is happening in my family right now, my brothers aren't speaking and it absolutely breaks my heart and brings me heartache like you'll never know and there's nothing I can do about it. I can only sit by and pray and hope that they remember the love and not the hurt, that they realize that family is more important than anything else, that the same happy and loving little boys that loved each other, are STILL there, they grew up, they didn't change.

Deep down we're all still the same brothers and sisters that used to run around being naughty, that played hide and seek and hospitals and cars, that slid down stairs with sleeping bags, that played video games and board games, that skipped school, that got run over by bycicles and then chased the guy to beat him up, that built little go karts and sped down the street, that camped out at the Kruger National Park and sat up and chatted and laughed until our sides hurt.

It's all still there and I hope that soon it will all resurface, before it's too late.

I'm sorry for venting, I know this was a super long post. If you have a similar problem in the family I know you will completely understand where I'm coming from, and if you don't, consider yourself lucky and Blessed. Bottom line, love each other and enjoy each other TODAY, never let a moment go by without telling someone just how much they mean to you.

God Bless!


  1. This time of the year is hard on a lot of people. Being away from your extended family can make it even harder. Cherish the wonderful memories of those long gone and remember to share the family stories with your children. Passing your family history along is the greatest gift you could give!

    Praying that your brothers re-unite and that you find peace and joy!

    Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

  2. i have been hearing and reading stories of people having a hard time this year...... the only comfort I can say is hold those memories deep deep in your heart and never let them go. Im sorry you feel so down right now, but just pray that he shows you love and light to a blessed Christmas.

  3. I can't tellou how I can't wait till Dec.26th. This year I can't but gifts for my husband Has been out of work for a year. I can't bake because we can't but food let alone baking supplies,I don't mean to have a pity party-I have my faith which is so important.My Dad passed in June and there is another reason for the blah's Like I said It's my faith that keeps me from going insane. Thank you for your wonderful blog amd letting me vent-Have a Blessed holiday sandra-Susan

  4. Aww you really touched my heart today. I wept for you as I read your words. {{{BIG HUGS}}}. I'll pray for you and for your family, especially your brothers. I can't imagine how hard it must be being so far from family. God can bridge that distance though, I don't know how, but I know that the God of all comfort, peace and joy can.

    Love and kisses.

    Sarah xxxx

  5. You so eloquently said exactly what I'm feeling. My family lives close by and we're very close knit but my DH has a grudge (for no known reason) against my family and gives me a hard time when I go to see them. I feel so torn apart by because my kids love my parents so much but when I go to see them I always end up fighting with my DH.

    I hope that you feel better. Have a merry Christmas!

  6. I am sure you have touched a chord with many people who are reading this. The holidays are hard for many people and not a very joyous time at all. Our families live far away, too, and I miss being with them holiday after holiday, year after year. There is so much pressure to be a certain way during the holidays which adds to the burden for so many. I hope you find bright and blessed moments in the midst of your longing, Sandra.

  7. Sandra, You certainly shouldn't be apologizing for posting what you did, because it applies to many, many people. I had tears when I read your post and knew the feelings that you are dealing with. It is very difficult, but you just have to make the best of it that you can. It is important for your childrent! Form traditions that you, your husband and you can look forward to every Christmas that seems to help me alot. We make our very own Christmas special in our fun ways. Also, I just started a new blog -- please check it out -- there is a spoken word poem on it under the Candy Cane post that I think you would really, really enjoy reading! My blog is http://countrygirlwishes.blogspot.com

    Merry Christmas with love to you and your family, Bev

  8. I know what you mean. We've been through years of family issues on Bob's side. When his sister-in-law passed away this fall it really did help most of the family think about the important things but there are still problems with one brother. I am sad this Christmas too, because it's the first year without Andy and we probably won't see him until June. I try not to dwell on it, but family is an important part of Christmas. I can see that it would be hard to be apart from your family for so much of the time. I know the time spent with your husband and kids will be precious to you though!

  9. I wish I was close enough to give you a huge hug right now, Sandra. I understand the feeling. I have been there for the past 18 years too. And if not one, then another of my family is away, far away at Christmas. Nothing I can say will make that any different, but I will most certainly pray for you and for your brothers. Life is all about living in the present. Today. And life can change in an instant. Just know how much they all love you, sweetie, and let that love surround you through Christmas.

  10. Oh Sandra, my heart goes out to you and I'm giving you a big, big hug. I'm praying for you, too.


  11. Sandra, thank you so much for putting into words what I haven't had the guts to do. I'm having the same issues. I miss my dad so much at this time of year I too walk around in tears. I see so many things that remind me of him or grandma Ruth or Grandpa Ray or cousin Michelle... It's just not what it used to be and is difficult to pretend otherwise except for the children. God Bless the children, they keep me going and bring back the magical portion of the spirit in the end.

  12. Came across your Blog, from Kelly's @No Place Like Home....my Dh is in the AF too!

    Added you to my Reader, Blessings!

  13. I woke up with puffy eyes, because I too watched Little people and bawled like a baby.
    I can only imagine your pain because if I didn't get to be with my family on the Holidays it would be so painful.
    I hope you get some peace from seeing your children enjoy Christmas because I know you make it so special for them.
    Merry Christmas!

  14. My goodness, Sandra... I had no idea the heartache you have been going through... I wish I was with you so I could sit and listen and just give you big hugs and eat lots and lots of chocolate... sometimes that is all we need as women don't we? Someone to just listen to us vent what is so deeply stirring in our hearts. I am so glad that you did share this. It not only shows me how to pray for you, but it shows a glimpe into your heart. Oh, Jesus, bring peace and comfort to Sandra...even now as she walks through this day. Bring new memories and friends that could be like family around her...breath Your hope and joy into her grieving heart. Bring joy where there is mourning and beauty for these ashes, Lord.

    Bless you my friend... hugs and hugs and hugs to you.. Amy

  15. Sandra...
    I spent several Christmas' away from home while in the service. Its not easy. But as MoMs, we are Makers Of Memories and sometimes a 'brave face' is very transparent to those we love. Find your true joy in Jesus this season,give Him your grief and ask Him for his peace.
    In my prayers,

  16. Dear Sandra your house (blog) is always one of my favorite places to visit. I can't come often anymore because I don't have internet at home so I miss you.
    I am praying for you. In some ways I really understand your post. I went through a time that I cried everyday. It was only my faith in God that all things would work together for good. Which is hard to understand. But God did answer my prayers. I know also what it is like when your family is estranged. We are still going through that too. I know losses and hurt can be overwhelming but God has given you a wonderful family of your own. Enjoy them and cherish them. Trust me you will blink and they will be grown. Then you will blink again and you'll have grandbabies. Which is where I am right now. Litterally I am babysitting our 7 month old and able to use the internet here so I get to visit you and some other wonderful friends. One of my most thankful things is the opportunity God has given us with this whole cyber world thing. Many days you and others Bless me and remind me of God's love and provision. I hope today that I can be a Blessing to you. My prayers are with you today and for the next few days. And when you think of Joy and Christmas remember that there is nothing between you and Jesus.
    Love my sister,

  17. We all can relate with how you feel.. I miss my mom so much and not only at Christmas.. there are times I look back and wonder if I shouldn't have told her more often how much I loved and appreciated her but I bet she knew it even if I didn't say it in so many words.. I know that one of these days I'll be with her again and that does help but in the mean time it's like you said, we do need to learn to show our love to the people around us and stop being so wrapped up in ourselves.
    You have a great family and you are building wonderful memories for your children to pass on.. that's all we can hope for in this life is to love and give of ourselves.
    God Bless you and have a very Merry Christmas.

  18. A different version of this that I see is that my only remaining birth family member, my sister, now is drawing away from me, just when I think it is more important than ever for us to try to stay close. She sanctifies our dead parents and dead sister, now that they are gone, though she allowed herself to get offended easily by them when they were alive. So as much as you miss your relatives who have passed away, remember not to let spending time missing them keep you from building bridges and staying as close as possible to those who are still alive.

    You seem to have wonderful children and husband, and they are the ones you CAN be with this Christmas, so focus on the together of your nuclear family. Look forward to a chance to see your relatives in SA again soon at a time other than Christmas.

    As Sherry said above, the cyber world (and the phone) make it possible to be closer to your faraway loved ones, and also to have many many kindred spirits through your blog.

    Wishing you a Joyous Christmas!!!

  19. You are not the only one who has a hard time at Christmas. I too find myself down and putting on "the face" just to get through the holidays. Personally I have discovered that I need to focus on what the Lord has blessed me with and not those that are no longer with me. It is still hard though.

    I too cried last night when Mike died. I have lost family members and/or friends and could just feel the pain they were going through. He seemed to be such a patient and kind man.

    I will pray for you during these difficult days. Have a Merry Christmas!

  20. Sandra, Sometimes things happen in families that makes our hearts cry. Many in mine have been divorced and remarried making celebrating hard with all the fractured families. I lost my earthy father 2 years ago on Christmas day and that alone causes me to have some sad tears every year.... blessings on you.. just keep the real meaning close to your heart and God will bless that....

  21. Sandra,

    If I was there, I'd give you a huge hug! I can relate to you. My mom passed away 5 years ago and I miss her terribly. We were very close and very much alike. I'm not as close to my dad and sister as I'd like and it would be so much more fun if she were here.

    I was just thinking today as I baked that I wished she were here to enjoy it with me.

    Much love and hugs and prayers for peace and an amazing amount of joy!

    One thing I'm learning is that I can't control anyones actions. I'm responsible for me and that's it. It's a bummer for them if they chose to act like yahoo's (C:

    Lord, bring Sandra an abundance of peace and joy. Let her mind be filled with joyful memories and even in tears let their be a sweet peace. Let her feel your arms around her.


  22. Well I am sitting here crying. This is such a hard time for so many people. I know what you mean about past Christmases and how magical it was when you were a child. All my relatives are gone now. No grandparents, no parents, no aunties. I am the old one, the only one left of my generation and I guess now what I do to honor the Christ child is to make the day magical for my grandchildren and especially for the little great grandchildren. The older I get the more I cry. I hope you feel better, I pray for your family to make amends and heal the hurts. I most of all I wish you a Holy and Blessed Christmas. Sandra, you blog is one of my very favorite. I am old now and I am mostly homebound and I love to come and visit you each day. Thank you so much.
    Roberta Anne

  23. Hugs to you Sandra. I'm glad you shared your heart. It probably resonates with a lot of people. And we can all take to heart your words to appreciate every minute with our loved ones.

  24. Thank you for such a heart touching message! I can relate. I am not near as far away, but I miss so much. All of my family lives so close, and I am hours away. This past Saturday, they were all shopping together, it broke my heart that I had to miss it! I miss so very much of their lives and them of ours, it hurts! And Christmas is magical and wonderful, but you are right, it does bring out the I miss this feeling and you just become blue. I know I sure do! I pray your brothers find their ways back to each other! Hugs and Love my friend!

  25. Your post today brought tears to my eyes...it is so true that we take for granted that our loved ones will be there tomorrow and we need to remember how quickly it all can change. I too get sentimental for my family members who have passed, espeically at Christmas. I hope your brothers find peace together and relaize life is too short for all the craziness, that family is more precious than anything. May you have a blessed Christmas with your family.

  26. Thank you! We have had a lot of loss in our family this year. My mom, my mother in law, my husbands grandma, geez! It is going to be a hard Christmas for us! I am blessed that my family is nearby. My heart breaks for you that your family is so far away. Like you, I will go on for the kids but it is just not the same.

    I wanted to let you know that I read your blogs daily. You have been a blessing in my life. Your humor, your recipes, your knitting, it all inspires me. And honestly, has helped lift me up when I am down. Thank you! I pray that God will bless you with a wonderful time with your husband and kids this year at Christmas!

  27. Your post just touched my heart! I definitely empathize with what you are going through. Many (((hugs)) to you and I'll be praying for you and your family.

  28. I could have written myself. The day befor Thanksgiving my beloved Grandmother died. It was devistating but truthfully she's been gone a long time with Dimentia.
    The day she died, I talked to my youngest Uncle, who is only 4 years older than me. We talked about what it used to like at his house when we were kids...the love the people the fun...those days have been long gone, and this are WAY different now.
    I wish I had words to truly comfort you, but I think this is something you have to do for yourself.
    Things change, people change, and there's nothing we can do about it...We are lucky we have those memories, and we honor them by being gratful and doing our best to keep moving forward with grace and love...
    I know your pain, I hope peace for you.


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