I didn't always have a very happy Christmas myself, but I certainly had a few. And standing in our living room last night, in that scant few minutes between when Eowyn goes to sleep and when we're just too tired to keep our eyes open any longer, I thought about how fortunate I am to be with such a close, interesting, caring, energetic and happy family as I am today - and how especially fortunate my daughter is to grow up with them as her examples. There won't be any gifts as emotional blackmail to extort good behavior, or as leverage to batter guilt for childish misdeeds from each other. And maybe she won't realize how important that is, but who cares? She'll have nothing but joy, and togetherness and love at Christmas, this I swear.
I know the difference between the good Christmases and the bad - it was the difference between pre-depression Mom and depressed Mom. And I wish I lived in a world where pharmaceuticals had worked just a little bit better just a little bit sooner, and my mother had made it. Depressed Mom would be a problem around Christmas time with Eowyn - she'd settle old scores, bear old grudges and be a dark cloud on a bright day. But what if she'd beaten depression? What if she came out of it the funny, wicked smart, sly woman that I remember? The lover of puns no matter how awful, the subtle doubter of authority but generous family member? What if my sharp, intelligent, vaguely surreal and definitely hilarious mother could meet my daughter today? I wish she could. I wish she could see the crazy gleam in Eowyn's eye when she decides that THAT thing, that thing that I'm not supposed ot touch, is definitely going in her mouth. I wish she could see the increasingly confident scooting across the floor, the relentless, intelligent way she works out how to make her body do things. Things that cause trouble! But things that she gets better and better at, day by day.
I wish those two people could meet, and weren't separated by decades, death and disease. But I'll have to do my best to pass on those traits. She's going to grow up with one family's legacy all around her, but the other she'll only receive second-hand, through me. I'll save the best, I hope - and let the worst cease forever, the last ripple in the pond, if I have anything to do with it.
First Christmas of many, and everyone better and brighter and more full of hope, joy and laughter.