The following article is an opinion piece by the author and represents the views of only the author and not necessarily those of AllOnGeorgia.
Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus. He was sent down from Heaven, to live as a man, and save the world from sin. Today is also a day of time with family, reflect on Christmas past, enjoy Christmas present, and think ahead to Christmas future.
I woke up early this morning, not because I have an excited daughter looking to see what Santa brought, but to make my contributions to my family Christmas lunch. It was quiet this morning as my husband and daughter slept. I made my morning coffee and began pulling out the ingredients for the Chess pie I was making. As I cracked each egg, I had one thought going through my head, “I hope it is half as good as Mammaw’s”. My Mammaw always made a big lunch with several dessert options. We simply showed up, ate lunch, and opened presents. I never thought about how much work she put into all the dishes for family lunch.
As I got older, my Granddaddy or Mammaw would ask if we could pick up a pack of plates or a bag of ice. No problem with that, I knew that lunch would be amazing and presents would follow. As we grew into adults, the small gathering would get bigger as my sister, my cousins, and I got married and eventually our children replaced us as the Grandchildren because they were Great Grandchildren.
Several years ago, my Granddaddy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and as the disease would take over, plates and ice, became a small dish to help out with lunch. Eventually the disease would take my Granddaddy to his Heavenly home and the empty chair, at the head of the table, made me realize that the Christmas of past would be no more. Roles in the family would evolve because he wasn’t with us anymore. Then, a few years ago, my Mammaw would announce that we would have sandwiches and other small dishes. My family wouldn’t always be there at the same time and we would eat when arrived. Instead of staying all day, we would have to rush in and rush out to make our next stops. Christmas of past had now become Christmas of present.
Christmas of present hit me like a ton of bricks this morning. I worried that the pie wouldn’t be good and I hoped I had remembered how my Mammaw made her dishes. She is 92 years old now and doesn’t cook anymore. I thought how grateful I am that my sister can make fried okra just like she could and my brother in law learned how to make Mammaw’s chocolate icing. I thought how thankful I am that, even if for just a few minutes, I get to spend time with my cousins, their spouses, and children. As I watched the mixing bowl, I thought about how lucky I am that I can spend time with my father and stepmother. I am grateful that at 45 years old, I can still go to my Mammaw’s house and spend time with her. Christmas present, the Christmas of today, reminds me that I still have a healthy Mother, who loves her children and grandchildren. I have another grandmother to spend time with, as well as aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. I have my In-laws to visit. My daughter is able to see her grandparents and a few of her great grandmothers. It also made me a little sad thinking about Christmas future.
Christmas future will involve a time when there will not be that house to go for Christmas. I worry if Christmas future will still involve my aunts, uncles, and cousins finding a few hours to celebrate together. I worry that no one remembers exactly how the mashed potatoes are supposed to be made. I worry that the times I have always took for granted will end. I know that new traditions will be part of Christmas future. Eventually I will move from the role of mother to grandmother. I know that eventually I will move from the role of daughter to caregiver.
For now, Christmas future will have to wait until next year. Today, I have decided to live in Christmas present and enjoy as well as rejoice that I have family to spend time with and a Mammaw to hug. Today, I have made a promise to always cherish the memories of Christmas past. I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas. I hope that you all take the time to reflect on your Christmas past, prepare for your Christmas of future, but most of all, rejoice and celebrate your Christmas present.
Layla Shipman Market Manager All On Georgia Floyd