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Waking up to a different kind of Christmas

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By Shannon Brock

Not counting today, it’s 36 days until Christmas.

Even though Thanksgiving comes first and I’m looking forward to my four-day weekend, Christmas is still the holiday on my mind.

Just to warn you, this column might be a bit sappy and a bit personal, so if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like that sort of thing, go ahead and flip the page or read whatever falls below or next to this. I promise, I don’t mind.

Christmas 2008 will be much different than what I’m used to.

It hit me a couple weeks ago that this will be the first Christmas that I won’t be waking up at my parents’ house on Christmas morning. I don’t know what that’s like, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want to find out. I might be a little more open to the idea if I were waking up in my new home with my new husband, but that’s not the case either.

I’ll be going home for Christmas, and when we go home, we stay with Josh’s parents, whom I love very much. And I really don’t mind waking up there. What I mind is that I won’t be waking up with my mom and dad.

As much as I’d hate to miss Josh’s face on Christmas morning, it might just be the first night we have to spend apart.

Something else will be incredibly different this year, too.

For the past 10 years, not counting this one, my four best friends from high school and I have gotten together to celebrate our friendship and the holiday itself.

Last year, although I was working for another paper, I wrote a column about how for the previous nine years we’d had a sleepover, but since we’d gotten older and more spread out (across four states, actually), we didn’t have time for overnight festivities and had settled on a dinner. I wrote that no matter what we’d always make time for each other, and even if it was only an hour, the five of us would always get together at Christmas.

At that dinner, I presented each of my friends with a copy of that column and when they read it, they nearly cried right there in the restaurant.

Well, this year, I’m crying for a different reason.

A lot changed over the past year, and a lot of things happened in ways I wish they wouldn’t have. All of my friends are living their lives, just a lot more separately that I would have wished. I haven’t spoken to two of them in over four months if not longer, and I hate that.

Things happen and things change, but I always thought a friendship like ours could withstand anything. All four of these girls were huge parts of my life for a decade and they were always there for me, and no matter what happened or will happen in the future, I can’t help but love them.

Somehow in a mess of things, I hurt one of them pretty badly, and I can only hope she knows it didn’t happen on purpose. The last thing I wanted was for her to get hurt.

Maybe this year, I’ll mail them all a copy of this column and hope they can remember the friendship we used to share. If so, I want to tell each of them I love them, I miss them and, just as I was 10 years ago and as I will be 10 years from now, I’m here if they need me because Christmas — and the other 364 days of the year — won’t be the same without them.

E-mail Shannon Mason Brock at sbrock@theandersonnews.com.