A Holiday Remembrance from My 13-Year-Old Daughter

As we close out another year, my daughter reminds me of that one lesson in particular, which is bigger than most. Click To TweetThe Holidays are my favorite time of year. They contain some of my fondest childhood memories.  Every year I try to get my children to engage in my holiday traditions, but, as you can imagine, not all the kids like the old man’s traditions. However, my thirteen-year-old daughter Anna is in hook, line and sinker. She will engage in my carols, bake with me in the kitchen, wear Christmas hats to Starbucks and get cookies at Weinrich’s Bakery. It’s a blast, and I cherish the time together. Recently, Anna asked if she could subscribe to this blog. I said sure. After all, who doesn’t need more subscribers? I didn’t really think she would read it, but don’t you know she sends me texts with comments as soon as it’s published. And honestly, I learn a little something from each of her comments (but shh…don’ tell her that). This week I read an assignment she wrote for class. It touched my heart. I asked her if she would like to be a guest blogger to help me close out 2017 and she agreed. What follows is her holiday writing. She shines a bright light on the most important part of the holidays–family. Thanks for the reminder and for sharing this beautiful message, Anna. I love you!

            Christmas has always been a memorable day in the Chiaradonna household. It has also been, hands down, my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. I have to be honest; I do enjoy receiving all of the thoughtful gifts from countless family members. But, my love for Christmas has always been rooted in my family. My Aunts, my Uncles, my Grandparents, my siblings, my cousins, and of course my lovely parents. The holiday season is all about family, and that is why I love it so much. I sing carols, and bake cookies with my Dad. I also go Christmas shopping, and decorate the holiday card with my mom. When Christmas is over I become bitter, but I know that I can relive it all the next year to come.

I thought this all of this year until August 20.

This past summer, my Uncle Fred passed away at Einstein Medical Center; surrounded by the people who love him. His wife, his two children, his son-in-law, his brothers and sister, his nieces and nephews his brothers-in-law, and his sister-in-law. He was only 69 years old, but he was old beyond his years. My Uncle was a Vietnam vet, and suffered severely from PTSD. He never agreed with this statement, but he was a true hero with a kind heart. He was a quiet, steadfast man who would go as far as to take a bullet for his family.

I truly took my last Christmas with my Uncle for granted. Instead of texting my friends and anxiously wondering what gifts everyone got me, I could have been helping him in the kitchen. Or, even talking to him about his favorite things: cooking and golf. It breaks my heart that last Christmas was the last one in which I will ever give him a kiss on the cheek, hug him, and thank him for the present he so kindly bought for me. Now that he is gone, I recognize how much the little things matter. The little things he does will be the things that I will miss terribly this Christmas. I am going to miss him critiquing my mother’s cooking to the last detail. I am going to miss him driving down my street in his apple red Ford Explorer. I am going to miss his homemade, Italian food. Most of all I am going to miss seeing his smiling face walking in my front door with his deep, profound voice saying “Merry Christmas!”.

During the holiday season, I never really ponder if this will be the last time I celebrate this time of year with someone, until now. While I am devastated that he passed, I am so thankful that my mind is now open to being more appreciative during the Christmas season. My Uncle’s passing, while depressing, made a permanent impact on me, and my view of things.

Anna’s words serve as a reminder to all of us to cherish the ones we love all year through, and take time out to hold them a little closer around the holidays. That is exactly what I intend to do. I wish you and your families a truly happy and safe holiday season. Front and Centered will return with a new post, on Tuesday, January 9.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and cheers to a bright and beautiful 2018!