Friday, December 10, 2010

Bittersweet


'Tis the season to
be jolly.  But I
have a secret.
At Christmastime,
I cry.
A lot.

Not big sobbing
boo-hoos
but the
eyes-brimming,
heart-squeezing
silent tears
that slide from 
the corners of my 
eyes when
I am moved.


What, you
ask, could cause
crying at
Christmastime?

It's little things
and big things
old things and
new things.


Singing those timeless
carols for the first
time each year, my
voice joining others as
the tunes float above
us to the rafters.
A tear.


Unwrapping ornaments
that hold such dear memories
of a time, a place or
a person.
Another tear.



Have Yourself A
Merry Little Christmas
always brings a tear
when I listen to
this part....
Through the
years we all will
be together, if
the fates allow.

Because, of course,
at some point,
they don't allow.

I miss toasting
Christmas cheer
with my grandma.
She is 93 but she
no longer toasts
and she no longer
knows who I am.
Even though she
is still with us,
I miss her.



I also miss my other
grandma who started
a Christmas account
at her bank every
January because she
loved Christmas so
very very  much.
She and my grampa
raised five boys in a
humble home but she
made sure that Christmas
was magic for their boys.


I miss Mom's brother.
He had a great big
laugh and relished
the small gifts life offered
{including Mom's
Christmas cookies!}.
He died at only 52,
14 short years ago.
My mom still bakes
his favorites, though.
We savor them and think
of his love for Christmas
and for us.  And for a 
moment, Uncle Doug 
is here.


Naturally, that's life.
It is like a train that you
share with other passengers
for part of your trip;
eventually they get off
and others hop on.


The others make me smile.
New companions on this
life train, bringing fresh
joy to our journey.


But I am always wistful when
I think of the love, memories and
camaraderie I enjoyed with
those who have left the train.



Our minister always says
that we feel things more
keenly at Christmastime...
The joys are deeper
as are the sorrows.


I have a dear friend whose
 sister was in the hospital, 
dying, one Christmas season.  
My friend remembers 
spending precious time there
and then stepping out into
the cold sunshine of the
New York City streets
to head for her office,
where the world seemed
almost too merry.

Bittersweet.


She told me that when
her mind turns to that time,
she has to switch it off
and simply remember all
of the good memories from
the past and those she is
creating, right here, 
right now.


When my grandma still
had all of her memories, she
coped the same way when
she felt sad.

She counted her blessings.


And so, this is what I do, too.
And I find the taste of sadness
gives way to sweetness...
As I think about my warm, snug home;
people under its roof who love me,
laughter and smiles from holidays
past....and those yet to come.


The train continues on its journey.
Someday it will be my turn to
disembark and make room for
the others, but until then, I am
determined to enjoy the view,
the ride and this Christmas.

Right here.
Right now.

Thanks for sharing
my ride.

xx
Suzanne










images:


 Tumblr 1.3.6.9.11.14.16
Flickr 2.4.5.8.12-13.15
{click each for talent}
Google 7
Privet & Holly 10





72 comments:

traci said...

your words always evoke great emotion. thank you for that dear friend. this is so very true and you put words to some feelings that i also have. xo!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Suzanne,
It's so true that we don't know what fate will allow. And, I think that is one part of life we as humans should be grateful for.

Holidays can are tricky because we want to embrace the moments and celebrate the season with those that are present, but you always have the knowledge that there are others, some close by in pain. I don't have any answers other than to say follow your heart in whatever direction it takes you.
xo,
~R

Sarah at myyellowhouse said...

Thanks for sharing my ride too ~

I reread this a couple of times and it was more beautiful and rang more true each time I read it. I am so thankful that I have reached the time in my life that I am finally able to appreciate the little things, the precious fleeting moments and the people that make my life so wonderful. Thanks for the beautifully worded reminder again. This is all what Christmas should be about.
xoxo Sarah

T's Daily Treasures said...

This is such a beautiful way of describing the circle of life and the emotions that the holiday season stirs. I have known or heard of so many who have "disembarked" during November and December. A New Year always brings new faces, experiences and memories. Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season. Tammy

T's Daily Treasures said...

Hi again, Suzanne, I just read about your daughter's 15th birthday. Absolutely fantastic. I cannot think of a better way to spend a birthday than with friends, creating with a purpose. I'll be 45 in February and this is the type of birthday I'd like to have. :) Best wishes and happy belated to your sweet daughter, Tammy

Julie said...

Suzanne,
What a moving post. It speaks of what many of us feel in our own souls and experience with our EMOTIONS... Christmas has always been my FAVORITE time of the year. I think so many feel it is too much about getting...lists and I wants, and Santa, but really so many people are also thinking about giving at this time, not just gifts but time, help....
My grandmother died on the 26th a few years back...we remember that.
Of course there's mama...I keenly feel it this year. She would be decorating and wrapping. She started buying for Christmas waaaay ahead of time at all the little shops they visited when they travelled. She loved to pick out gifts. Never thought of herself but others as she shopped.
I will think of her joy this year, as I miss her...always dressed in cheerful bright red and Christmas jewelry...I can see her. Your post moved me. I wept. It is true. Our lives are a journey...a pilgrim's path moving through this place, and becoming better persons for the people we have the privilege to travel with us on parts of the trek...Life in the eye of eternity is short....yes, girl, and we shall enjoy all that is in the here and now each passing week and month. And Christmas is a wonderful time to pull all of those feelings up and make us sensitive to these truths. Hugs, Big Hugs to you dear bloggy sister. I am thankful for having met you this year through this amazing thing called the internet. You are a kindred spirit, a beautiful sister, whose words warm my heart and make me say, Yes...I KNOW what you are feeling...standing with you today~ sending love and warm fuzzies to you up in that cold (polar-like?) region. Have a wonderful wonderful weekend. Enjoy the ride, the scenery, the passengers around you as you enjoy your family and life. xo

Farmgirl Paints said...

you have such a beautiful way with words girlie. love your thought process this morning. the holidays are hard for a lot of people. we miss the ones who shared those special times with us. but like you said...so much to be grateful for and to look forward too.

Deborah said...

Very beautiful..as always Suzanne...

Deborah xoxo

Blondie's Journal said...

Beautifully written, Suzanne. Sometimes the world seems too big and beautiful to wrap our heads around and all we can do is switch back and forth between the realities of life while trying to understand it all.

Thanks for your wise words.

Xo,
Jane

Zuzu said...

This is so beautifully written, Suzanne.

My sister passed away four years ago. She was born on Christmas, so this time of year is always full of sweet memories of her and the other family members that made Christmas so very special. I'll be making those wonderful, family cookie & candy recipes and remembering them with love.

Wishing you a lovely day,
~ Zuzu

La Dolfina said...

Wow Suzanne that was beautiful!
You really have the gift with words to touch those feelings we all have. I'm like you, I cry a lot at Christmas time... there is so much emotion, sometimes it's overwhelming and a tear falls. I know they are tears of unbelievable gratitude and joy and realization that time is short and feeling this heightened sense of awareness is a gift. It puts you completely in the present moment.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts with us. You are a gift and I'm so glad I hopped on your train :)
I love you,

Terri

Lili said...

You said this so beautifully Suzanne. It's like we have the same thoughts during this season, but you can always put it into words so well. The bittersweet memories always surface this time of year, perhaps to make sure we remember to always cherish the present time. Hugs ~Lili

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

And one more...crying at blog posts because YOU KNOW and YOU GET IT.

Sniff.

Anne Lorys - Fiona and Twig said...

I so "get" this post, Suzanne.
The holidays are bittersweet for me, due to several losses I have experienced this time of year. I always seem to struggle with the holiday blues, even so this year.

Thank you for helping me to recall all the blessings I have in my life, and to give those their proper place in my heart and mind.

Hugs,
Anne

Create Beauty said...

Beautifully written. I like your analogy of life being like a train with various passengers coming and going. It's hard to let go when we love someone, but new people come into our lives. I think also of pets... dogs I never wanted to say goodbye to, but without their passing, I'd never have these two that are so dear to me now.

Thank you Suzanne, for sharing your beautiful gift of writing that speaks to our hearts so deeply.

~ Violet

Linda said...

Oh, the tears are spilling,
Suzanne ...so close to home for me. Such a beautiful post! This year, I am a new empty nester and am keenly aware of the passage of time. The older I get, the more bittersweet the holidays become for me, as more people have "disembarked" or are far away. But as you say, there are the new children I have through marriage, and the sweet grandchildren who bring such joys to life! The photo of the festively dressed train interior evoked sweet thoughts...girl, your blog is a gift for me!

La Dolfina said...

Suzanne,
I just read this post to my Mom and we both cried. She said it made her day so special and she loves you and wants to subscribe to your blog. She is so excited about you and your daughter coming to stay with me next year. We can't wait to meet you in person :)
God Bless and have a wonderful day!!!

Beach House Living said...

Suzanne,
This is written so beautifully that as I read it recalled so many fond memories of those no longer with me as well as some funny things.

Beatnheart said...

such a heartfelt sentiment...yes, count your blessings because it seems you have had many including a close knit family...a beautiful thing ...keep looking at the bright star that is you.

Blooming Rose Musings said...

My sweet friend, your words are so beautiful. I had tears in my eyes just reading this exquisite post. You have the most incredible way of touching people's emotions. Yes,
Christmas can be both a joyuos time and a sad time...as you said, bittersweet. I guess it makes us all appreciate all the good things both large and small. I dearly miss people who have disembarked(wonderful word)from this journey but I am so very thankful for all my many blessings and people who are along for the ride now ...
both old and new. Beautiful Post.

Donna (Timeless Settings) said...

You found such beautiful images to go with your beautiful words. Thank you for sharing.

Donna

A Vintage Chic said...

Beautiful, Suzanne...just beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes...I love your analogy of the train. I feel the same way at times throughout the season...actually feelings like this hit me all the time. Being as tuned in to my family history as I am, I feel these things alot. It's a good sadness, though...as you say, bittersweet.

It's good to feel. It's good to remember and to not take one single moment of the now for granted. Thanks for reminding us about that this morning...

Wishing you a sweet day, my friend...

Julie

pollydove said...

This was another beautiful post. So real, so heartfelt. I cry too. I miss a lost love more than ever at this time of year. Life will always be bittersweet - and as we continue on our own train's journey we need to make sure we keep going with the "sweet" part too. To always have balance. To love, to learn, to grow.

I just love all of this at Christmastime - it is definitely a time of reflection, isn't it?

lisaroyhandbags said...

Not only do I cry at Christmastime, I cry when I read your blog!
My guy and I have been married 20 years this year and because we're the only ones who don't live in our hometown, we are always the ones travelling. We have never had our own Christmas - a time to make your own memories and traditions. While we enjoy seeing my family and his for the celebrations, and cherish remembering those loved ones no longer on our train, it's always bittersweet for me. And while many may ask why do we go every year, why not stay home and celebrate ourselves - we do it for everyone else, to not disappoint, to fulfill Christmas wishes of parents and siblings. And so it goes...xo

lisaroyhandbags said...

Not only do I cry at Christmastime, I cry when I read your blog!
My guy and I have been married 20 years this year and because we're the only ones who don't live in our hometown, we are always the ones travelling. We have never had our own Christmas - a time to make your own memories and traditions. While we enjoy seeing my family and his for the celebrations, and cherish remembering those loved ones no longer on our train, it's always bittersweet for me. And while many may ask why do we go every year, why not stay home and celebrate ourselves - we do it for everyone else, to not disappoint, to fulfill Christmas wishes of parents and siblings. And so it goes...xo

Jo said...

What a sweet post full of wonderful memories of special people. You have such a way with words and and sharing your heart.

Jo

Nanniepannie said...

Your post was lovely. I'm always emotionally charged this time of year. It's usually something so small that sets me off. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel this time of year.

I know Susan would comment if she were here. She's visiting our folks this weekend..."I'm home alone"...which in itself makes me melancholy.

Vava (aka Virginia) said...

It's just not right.
Tearing up while reading this beautiful post.
AND! This Christmas music...is slaying me.
So haunting...your writing.
Merry Christmas!

Kathy's Red Door Welcome said...

Oh my gosh Suzanne, now you have me crying. Christmas has never been the same for me since I lost my only sister 31 years ago. Since that day there have been many goodbyes and for me Christmas does hold so many dear memories...the bitter with the sweet.

The Stylish House said...

Suzanne,
Beautifully written and heartfelt post! Christmas is a time of reflection and mixed emotions for many. Remembering loved one's that are no longer here can be bittersweet. I have so much to be thankful for this year and appreciate all the gifts I have been given.
Wishing you well!
Cathy

Rene said...

Everyone before me said what I was about to say. You really do have a way with words Suzanne and you have an incredible knack for helping me to realize things that are there in the back of my mind and bringing them forward so that they have time to process. Enjoy your weekend.

-Rene

Olive Cooper said...

Having a dysrythmia here...crying. The loss and the joy are intertwined at this time. love you for these sweet posts ♥O

eddieross said...

YOU are an amazing writer! Thank you for such inspiring words and such an original blog.
Happy Holidays!
Xo,
E&J

Stitchfork said...

Reaching for the Kleenex. That was beautiful.
xo Cathy

cityfarmer said...

wiping those silent oozing tears ....

you always say the most special things ... like you're talking right to this sentimental fool!

Tammy said...

This has to be the most beautifully written post yet this season! I love all the pics as well! Stunning!
I'm fortunate that I have my close family and friends near by.I miss my maternal Grandmother and Grandfather ever so much. My paternal Grandmother is 95, and her minds is often ~ at times better than mine! My Mom says she may out live us all...she's such a blessing!
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!
Tammy :-)
JUNK WILD

simpledaisy said...

What a beautiful post!
You gave me so much to reflect on....thank you:)

Charm Bracelet Diva said...

Love the train metaphor. SO true, all of it. I, too, get wistful around the holidays for my mom, brother and now my dad who passed away the week before Thanksgiving. I'll be sure to count my blessings this time!

La Petite Gallery said...

Privit and Holly makes me think of Long Island. Thank you Suzanne for this beautiful post that brought a tear to my eye and made me Thank God I am here to read it.. Aries? me too.
yvonne

Marie said...

Suzanne, although Christmas is a season of joy it is also a season of tears for many . . . I have wonderful memories of my children growing up, but at the same time my heart aches for the distance between some of them and me at present, and I don't mean in miles... another beautiful post. xxoo

Jenny Schouten Short said...

Lovely Christmastime thoughts. It is true. Happy and sad at the same time. I understand. xo

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

WOW. I have said it before and I will say it again...you are good. You are writer, Suzanne, and this was a gem. "The cold sunshine of New York", and the train metaphor was stunning and chilling at the same time. I know how you feel. Many sweet memories sometimes obliterated by one bitter event such as the loss of a loved one combined make for BITTERSWEET....the present is the only way to cope and that is what I will do this Christmas when I think of my momma and her humble yet LOVING gifts to me....

O.K., now I am tearing up here.......have a cozy day today in our wild and wooly snow storm!!! LOVE YOU, Anita

SHERRY HART said...

Ah....Christmas. Yes it is a difficult time. I lost both my Mom and Dad at Christmas time so in many ways it is a sad time but also it makes me remember the wonderful memories I had as a child during the holidays. Nobody loved Christmas more than my Mom :)
Thanks for that beautiful post.

Hilary @ Sweet as June said...

I feel the same way this time of year... I just could never put it into words... thank you for doing that for me. :)

hometown girl said...

oh Suzanne, this is so sweet & beautiful. i know what you mean. my grandmother didn't know who i was either for a few years before she passed and i missed her then too. and for all the other people in my life that i've held dear. when the kids are in church and sing i have a very hard time not crying, they move me so. thank you for sharing yourself with us. xo susan

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. Thank you.

suzymcqatcomcast.net

Laura said...

What a moving post. I actually have tears in my eyes. You have captured perfectly, what I imagine a lot of us feel at this time of year. It's so hard not to get caught up in the memories and live in the now... even though Christmas is such a happy, jolly time, I find myself thinking of those that I have lost over the years and say a little prayer that they will be here for me to enjoy again next Christmas. Wishing you health and happiness. Lx

Happy Homemaker UK | Laura said...

Wow, did this post speak to me! Now, more than ever, living in the UK, I feel like I am on a train - curious to see what new friends will hop on board. You can be on my train anytime :)

A kindergarten once described her mom feeling 'happy sad' about her daughter turning a year older on her upcoming birthday. I think that pretty much sums it up!

Happy blizzard, my friend. May you stay cozy,
XO L

Lisa said...

Bittersweet. That sums this season up so well, Suzanne. Thinking about those I love who are no longer with me makes me cherish the days with my family all the more. Have a happy weekend! xoLisa

Happy Homemaker UK | Laura said...

47 comments - wow, what a devoted readership you have!! You rock, girl

XO L

Tricia - A Rosy Note said...

For me, Christmas brings up strong emotions because it makes me reflect on how quickly time passes...how my children are getting bigger and bigger and I am growing older. I loved your analogy of life being like a train. You are a wonderful writer. Enjoy the snow ;)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Oh and WHAT A RIDE!

With a warm hug and cheers,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

JANE said...

What an evocative and insightful post, Sweetie. You've put a lot of thought into it and it comes from the heart - bravo.

I agree with all your sentiments. I also wonder whether those in the Northern Hemisphere may be given to a little melancholia at this cold, grey and snowy time of year. Down here in summertime Australia, I wonder if the weather raises our spirits a little. Just a thought...J x

Linda in AZ * said...

* ... So eloquently, and wisely, stated, dear friend, Suzanne... I so love the way your words come together, seemingly effortlessly, are always spoken from the depths of your heart and always reach MINE...

Warmest, most sincere blessings,
Linda in AZ *
bellesmom1234@comcast.net

acorn hollow said...

so very well put I feel the same after losing my parents,Christmas is never the same but we are counting our blessing as we wait for our first grand daughter to be born this christmas season. God is good
cathy

followingsplendor said...

Memories are an amazing thing to me--they come with a smell or a sound or a sight and sometimes even a touch--they are sweet and they can burrow deep--
What a sweet journey we have on this earth--what a gift--
As I see the sorrow--my heart knows--
Christmas--a time to remember--a baby who was born to die upon Calvary--a sorrow I never what to forget--a memory of a joy to come!

Low Tide High Style said...

This time of year is so very bittersweet and you have summed it up so well my friend. I hope your train ride is a long one and that you have lots of other passengers with you along your exciting journey called life!

Kat :)

Cindy said...

thank you for that wonderful trip. it is amazing how the memories seem to surface the most at the holidays isn't it? how wonderful that we get to relive those memories whenever we want to, to help us get through the bad times and to share with loved ones.

i loved your post!!!!!!

cindy

Jennifer Rizzo said...

The holiday's are so bittersweet. They can be so difficult and wonderful at the same time.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Suzanne..WoW..I don't even know where to start for fear I won't know how to end. Yes..you are an amazing writer. You wrapped everything I've been feeling up in a box & then opened the lid to let it all out. Weaving the story around a train was perfection. My grandfather was a engineer on the railroad & boy this made me think of him sitting in the locomotive seat.
Flying home last Christmas & saying goodbye forever to my mom on Christmas day was the most heartbreaking thing I've ever done. I can't get it out of my head & I carry so much guilt for flying home & not being there when she died on New Years day. We won't be with any family this year in Washington includig our 4 children, so just to hear Christmas music is like ripping my heart out. I recalled reading your post of all those years singing in the church choir standing next to mom with dad directing.
I've wanted to write you for over a week as I loved your post talking about giving up blogging because your friends & family don't understand. You just have the perfect way of connecting & speaking of what goes through my heart & mind. Please don't give up. You inspire me & I hope someday when I fly into Portland to see my children we will get a chance to share a cup of tea; to laugh & yes, likely shed a tear or two.

Thank you Suzanne very..very much.

xo xo Deb

My Grama's Soul said...

Oh Suzanne....this post brought tears to my eyes....I do understand the sorrow at Christmas....I will ALWAYS miss those I have loved....but I vow to have as many joyfully Christmas's as my maker will ALLOW ME...I have had far too many sad one's in the past.

Xo

Jo

Hillcrest Cottage said...

The train illustration got to me... so beautiful and so true. And it is a very fast European style train zipping along at unbelievable speeds.

We have to be very stubborn and determines to enjoy the ride and the view and the company... otherwise... while we are napping... our stop will already be here!

Cindy said...

Hi Suzanne, thank you so much for the wonderful compliment.

i actually was reading your blog this morning and was going to reply but got sidetracked by the kids, lol.

my email has been giving me fits lately so i will post this on your blog too in the comments section. I have a canon 7d. i recently upgraded from the canon xti and i couldn't be
happier with the new camera. it is a learning curve from the xti but when i took pictures with the old camera after i had been using the new one for a while, there was really
no comparison between the two...there is a wealth of information on the web on how to use your camera too. lots of videos on youtube too!!!

good luck with your choice. and have fun, whichever one you get....

cindy

Susan Branch said...

Positively beautiful! beautifully said. Reminds me of the poem that ends "...Touch hands touch hands with those who stay; strong hands to weak; Old hands to young; Around the Christmas board, touch hands." Thank you! Sending love and light, Susan

Melanie said...

Suzanne~

It seems that every time I visit your blog, your tender words bring tears to my eyes. Thank you for so elequently tugging at my heart again today.

I have so many wonderful childhood memories of my holidays . I carry them with me as a guide of sorts... to assure that I am taking the time to do the same with my daughters. I love to watch the magic of Christmas through their eyes.

This year my heart is a bit heavier with the loss of my dad 2 years ago in January. The memories of our last Christmas together carry so many emotions for me. I know the weight will be a bit lighter with each passing year but for now, it makes me cry.

Know that when you shed a tear for the beauty of this season, I will be crying along side of you.

Bless you, sweet friend.:)

Love,
Melanie

Beth said...

First visit to your blog and I was with you all through this post. At the risk of repeating previous comments - beautiful.
Everything makes me cry Christmas time, even seeing my little girl swimming at school last week (pausing a moment to dab eyes so that I can see the keyboard!!) reminded me that we are away from some family and friends and that she is growing up so fast. x

June said...

Suzanne your post warmed me tonight, and as I read, I found myself appreciating your lovely spirit and ability to write my feelings.
love to you...

Bringing Pretty Back said...

It is as though you took the words from my heart and put them in a post. Thank you.
Have a pretty day.
Kristin

Trish @TheOldPostRoad said...

Always enjoy your words, Suzanne. Merry Christmas!
-Trish

NicNacManiac said...

You are so full of passion that the smallest things bring out your emotion...you are too too precious! Loved this post and all of the emotions that it brought out and I also shed many a tear during this season for many of the same reasons! Thank you friend for making me realize that we are all human and should live in the moment and love one another!!
xOxO Nerina

Days at Buttermilk Cottage said...

I simply cannot think of anyone I'd rather share the train ride with, even if it's only through your beautifully written post.
Best,
Susan

Kathysue said...

Suzanne, oh what lovely words, sweet, sweet girl. I think we all have our bitter sweet moments. AS I get older even the bitter has become so sweet, time has a way of giving a us a better view!!! Love you,Kathysue