This holiday season was a little different from most in recent years. My brother, sister and I along with most of our kids spent about a week together in Indiana with my mom. The last time that happened was when my dad passed away about three years ago. It was a sudden and unexpected loss; so this new get together was bittersweet. Between all the music, conversation, card games, football on TV and lots of teen and young adult laughter, I would catch myself missing the sound of my dad’s laughter and uproarious teasing. He was always so comfortable around his grandkids. They brought out the best side of him. That sound I missed this year.
But there were other wonderful sounds that I can still recall. Mom sharing stories of our relatives as we waded through her stacks and albums of photos. I especially enjoy this experience because I was the first grandchild on my mom’s side of the family. I was blessed to know and remember great-grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, grandparents. Hearing new stories and seeing some pictures for the first time made me feel closer to my mom than I did in my youth. All the grandkids playing games, getting loud, laughing – music to my ears. Some may think they were a bit too loud and rambunctious, but that is the prerogative of youth! Family dogs barking and running and finally dropping into a comfortable chairs to rest before starting the whole thing all over again added to the festivities.
A party to celebrate Mom’s 70th birthday had us all a little anxious, but what a wonderful event. Relatives I hadn’t seen in quite a long time arrived throughout the evening. Their reminiscing and complaints of noise reminded me of family holidays when I was young. Some things never change. One of my favorite sounds involved the newest generation of cousins who have taken our place, chasing each other around the room, sharing secrets, consoling the crying little ones who couldn’t keep up, hugging and kissing aunts and uncles and grandmas and each other. Everyone singing happy birthday to Mom. Telling her how good she looked and asking for pictures to be taken. Even the sounds of saying goodbye, promising to keep in touch, the older voices and the younger all mixed together were noises to cherish.
Midnight mass is one of my immediate family’s yearly traditions. Beautiful voices of the choir singing Christmastime hymns and soft “Silent Night” with the congregation joining in. Even the quiet parts of the celebration held a wondrous sound of reverance and awe.
But of all the sounds I remember from this holiday season, the ones that mean the most to me were the “I love you”s shared between family and friends. I wish I could bottle them up, to open and savor far into the new year.
Wishing you blessings, health and happiness in 2012.