Embracing the Holiday with Beautiful Sad Memories of Loved Ones: Gone too Soon


I have been quite teary lately! Image

No! I am not experiencing abuse or torture!
Absolutely no family drama or loses!
And I am not pregnant!
I think it is this Christmas festival bringing back sweet bitter memories of loved ones gone to soon!
While I do not celebrate Christmas, it is plastered on my brain, in face and time machine. I was raised Christian, so I remember vividly all  things we did during this festive season. In Uganda, where I am from, everyone got a new dress or shirt from their parents – tailor-made for you!  Now, do not begin to think that I am teary because nobody has bought me a new dress. Yes, I have had to buy myself winter clothes, mostly winter running clothes, anyway:)
No way I can escape the Christmas trees and carols, which are mainstreamed into an American society that seemingly separates “religion from public life”. My thinking is, the “no-religion in public space” is meant to scare away all other non-Christian religions. I understand some schools let kids sing Christmas Carols. In fact, my kindergartner came back yesterday with a painting of a Christmas Tree. I thought that was creepy, considering he goes to public school, where religion is supposedly a no-go.
Granted, PBS Kids Television has done a great job to show us that we can teach our children in America about Christmas without a mention of Jesus, while keeping them mesmerized to learn about Santa, Christmas tree and lights and snow.   But let’s not fool ourselves, the CHRIST in Christmas Tree refers to the character “Jesus CHRIST”, who is credited with inventing Christianity and Christian followers. So, here is religion plastered in our faces, our homes, our children’s psyche, and in our living rooms, and we are supposed to stay “Switzerland” [ok pre-2002 Switzerland]. Or we might be accused of “religious intolerance”, in a very controversially intolerant land we live in America. We do not tolerate anyone who does not harness nature, does not hug trees, does not support the orientation choices of all beings, or is conservatives. We do not want to accept that by not tolerating what we deem intolerance, we too become intolerant. But that is not my major point here, nor what defines me.
I am perfectly fine with anyone practicing their beliefs [and I mean this literally], without impinging on those beliefs I hold dearly as an individual or a member of a particularly group”. I am perfectly fine with Christians! My best friend, who is the reason why I am teary lately was a Christian, and a strong believer too! First and foremost, she was humane and a lover of her friends! She treated each one of us as special to her; we did not have to compete for her affection. I often told her that I am very proud to associate with her because the god she believes listens to her prayers before mine, and blesses me through her. Of course, it is hard to kick-out my Christian influence, and I never turned down her invitations to go party with her Christian community. If she tolerated me and loved me for who I am, that was the least I could return to her, showing here that I did not have a problem with her community of friends. In fact, I always enjoyed them, because there was a lot to talk about beside religion. In any case, it is my way of living – LIVE YOUR LIFE! And let others LIVE THEIR LIVES!
No wonder, this Christmas season 2013 reminds me of the last Christmas I shared with my dear Phina in 2009. This is our first Christmas since coming back to the United States this year, from traveling and living outside the US for the last three years. In December 2009, we went to visit Phina, my BFF in Malden, MA, shortly before leaving the country for South Africa. We enjoy all the time we spent with her. We took pictures in the huge Boston snow, and did our usual outings around Boston.  I did not know that would be the last time I would see her. No one ever prepared me for that possibility. But it is now a reality, and I am living it right now.  Thereafter, I saw her once again in December 2011, via Video Skype from Uganda. And she looked as beautiful, sweet and radiant as ever. That was the last time I saw her alive. The next time would see her, she was lying still and cold.
Thinking about her makes me cry! I miss her dearly:) I imagine how it would have been celebrating Christmas with her again, listening to her talk, chatting till late in the night, her cooking illustrious meals for me in her kitchen, her signature Shepard’s pie and mushroom soup whenever I went to visit her in Boston.
Guess what? While going through my old stuff yesterday, I came across this card she gave me, with her signature handwriting, of course, when my son and I were going away to South Africa. Just a Hug…..Just Because
Even now, I cannot write this without tears.
I miss you so much Phina!  Sending you love and celebrations!
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