I love Christmas. I’m one of those saps who listen to Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. I love putting up the tree. And for someone who’s normally a self-centered egomaniac, I enjoy buying Christmas gifts for other people.
Cheesy? Maybe, but there is a genuine, warm feeling that comes with the holiday.
Sure, Christmas is all big business now. It encourages materialism. It’s a distorted version of what the holiday once was. Whatever you say.
For me, there’s no day like it. Maybe it’s the combination of being with your family, inside from the cold, and giving each other stuff—regardless of how forced it is. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something about it that just feels, well, good.
But what if you can’t give enough?
Over at Salon, Tracy Clark-Flory wrote about how her father’s going through his last Christmas with his wife, who’s dying from lung cancer:
When your partner is dying, the idea of a shiny new Lexus as a symbol of commitment—to anything other than monthly payments—becomes particularly odious; “diamonds are forever” takes on depressing new meaning (because life isn’t forever). No, love isn’t “a car in the driveway with a big bow on top.” It’s pushing a wheelchair. It’s cutting off all of your lover’s hair as it begins to fall out in large clumps during chemo, and massaging that patchy head to give her one of the few physical pleasures left to her. It’s laughing while browsing a wig shop where the only other customer is a transvestite prostitute. It’s relearning how to cook after three decades of marriage. It’s giving shots through a layer of belly fat. It’s sitting side-by-side in a hospital bed watching TV.
Go read the whole thing, and don’t let anyone at work see you cry. At the end, Clark-Flory raises a heart-wrenching question that none of us ever want to face, but all probably will.
“What kind of Christmas present do you get for someone who’s dying?”
A necklace? A car? None of that matters. So what do you do?
Clark-Flory’s father has given his wife everything, but what do you do on Christmas day? Do you not give anything? What isn’t trivial when you’re staring down the face of death? But you still have to get something, don’t you? What would you do? Let us know in the comments.
—Photo Lin Pernille ♥ Photography/Flickr