It was Christmas Day. She knew that it was Christmas Day, even though, for her, each day was the same as the one before and the one before that. Days, weeks, they all ran together until she was never really sure what day of the week it was, and, if she were to be perfectly honest, what month or season it was, either. What’s more, she didn’t care.
It was quiet in the nursing home. This early in the morning, it usually was. It was her favorite time, when no one came into the room to poke at her or chatter nonsense to cover the blessed silence. She turned her head and looked out the window. The sun was just rising on the horizon.
That same sun had risen on Christmas Day for more than 2000 years now. She had seen the last 83 of them. Her mind drifted into the past, and she closed her eyes, visualizing the freshly cut pine tree adorned with her young sons’ artwork that had filled the living room of the house in which she had lived her entire married life. She had loved the smell of the fresh pine; it meant Christmas to her.
She opened her eyes now, and sighed. Unfortunately, she also remembered the arguments with her husband and her impatience with the boys as she tried to cook the big meal it would take them less than 20 minutes to eat. Why hadn’t she sat with them, read their new books to them, played the board games that Santa had brought them? Why had she yelled at them when they stepped into the kitchen? For some reason, she had always ended up crying and choking down aspirin with her fourth glass of mulled wine at the end of the day.
Christmas Day, she thought now, was highly overrated. She had had so many unrealistic expectations; it had never occurred to her to simplify the day. Tradition was tradition, after all. Changing long-standing traditions would have been unthinkable. It was only now that she realized that focusing on family, instead of presents, food, and decorations, was what would have made past Christmas Days treasured memories.
Today her eldest son and granddaughter would visit her. She now had the time – and the wisdom – to enjoy their company on this special day. She looked around the small room, the Christmas cards tacked to the window blinds, the poinsettias and the tins of homemade cookies brought by friends, and the tools of the medical profession that had kept her alive to see this day. Live and learn, she thought, smiling wryly to herself. Today will be a Christmas Day to remember.