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the joy and sorrow of Christmas

As I drive Nora to the airport with her Dad, “All of me”, starts to play. “..I love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections…”

“Who is this?” He asks.

“I can’t remember off hand, isn’t it the same guy who sings “Stay with me”?”

“No, that’s Sam Smith. It’s my favourite.” He says quietly.

And don’t those two songs sum up how we would have loved to be loved and we failed? The rain falls against the windshield as I drive up to the drop off. I spy my daughter in the rear view mirror. She is now singing Taylor Swift word for freaky-too-young-to-be-a-tween word. I tell the lump in my throat to stay down until she’s out of sight. She doesn’t need to worry about Mom being without her daughter for Christmas. Again. I often give away Dec 25th. I can’t even remember the last time I stuffed a stocking. Why? Because I can’t do that to her Dad.

We all hug at departures. “Give my love to all the old ladies!” I say with a great big advertisement-for-toothpaste smile. As soon as they are through the door a sob escapes and I burst into tears right in front of some poor bastard who just wants a smoke without any drama.images-2

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Vito Frangione with his boys, photo by his loving wife, Sandra.

Up and over the overpass, on my way down Marine, I think of departures. I think of my Zio Vincenzo. He died today, Dec 22, 2014. Five years ago, to the day, his eldest son died: Vito. I guess he didn’t want to face one more anniversary. Now Christmas is a double death for his family. They were two good kind men. Vito was a massive man. He was six foot by six foot: gregarious squared². He was kingly and loved and always all about the kids and sports and a bear hug for the underdog. Zio Vincenzo was a small quiet man with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Handsome, as all the Frangione men are, with those crinkly smile lines. I told him a million times I didn’t speak Italian but he continued to speak it to me anyway, and by damn, I swear I began to understand him. One son remains. I quite frankly don’t know how he’s going to take it. Perhaps the only downside to having a close knit loving family: losing them is devastating.

My Fellow texts, “How are you doing?”

I ask myself in the car: how are you doing, Lucia? I smile. I’m off to pick up his Christmas present. I found it ages ago but hesitated. Is it something he wants or is it just something I would love? But we often both love the same things. And he asked for it. I think over the handful of things I got for his child. I kind of like all those things too. Am I one of those people who buys gifts for others I will borrow later? I chuckle. I go over my list of things I’m going to make for Orphan’s Christmas. I have some dear friends coming who were at loose ends for plans and Fellow has a few who are new to me. I think I will open with that delicious gorgonzola pear honey olive fig tart. And I am very honoured to be given the scripture to read at midnight mass. I’ve never done that before. And I go over in my mind some of the wonderful hilarious tender moments I had with my family in Calgary this past week for “early Christmas”. 14742_l

Yes. I am doing very very well. And I am so grateful.

I have learned over the years to invite my two oldest companions, Sorrow and joy, to be part of the season. They warm themselves by the fire and sit by the Christmas tree. And they do so, hand in hand. When I was younger I thought I could only invite one or the other. If Sorrow was present, I could not invite Joy, or I feared Sorrow would feel one upped and dismissed by the levity and light that Joy can’t help but bring. And if I have Joy over, I used to be afraid if I allowed Sorrow in the room, She would spoil the whole evening with a dark heckler gloom, drink too much rum with the egg nog and fill stockings with coal. You know. That sort of sour puss thing. But no. They are great bed fellows. Who knew? They balance each other out. They even agree on some things. They both like a real tree, for instance. Sorrow likes it because it is a symbol of death by crucifixion. Joy likes it because it is full of fanciful lights and each bulb hanging on the boughs brings a happy memory. It’s a blue Christmas, it’s a white Christmas. It’s a silent night and it’s a bright star. It’s a baby. It’s a barn. It’s a prince of peace who will stay by all of me.images-4

Stay with me by Sam Smith

All of me by John Legend

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2 comments

  1. Bill Rummel

    Merry Christmas Lucia.

    I like your thoughts about including both sorrow and joy, because truly, we can not begin to understand and appreciate either without the other. Balance and harmony. The world truly is a wonderous place!

    And if you look really closely, everyone you need and want are ALL gathered round your tree in your heart and your home. And many of them are looking for YOU round their own trees.

    All the best Lucia, from my tree to yours.

    Bill

    1. Lucia Frangione

      you’re absolutely right, wonderful Bill! xo Merry Christmas to you.

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