Cold toes. Crisp air. Big scarves. Ice-skating in Steel City. Bright, white lights. Hot chocolate. Snuggling under a blanket fresh out the dryer. Being with those who love you most. Snowflakes. Singing. Love. Crimson bows. Movies. Pajamas. Angels. Celebration.
Just a few of the many things that December means to me. December was a time, for me, in which I would always dress in my nicest clothes and visit my Nana’s house. A quaint, cottage-like home with the whole Christmas and wintery feel to it. The snow winked at you in the giant yard as you headed towards the cozy house with smoke puffing out of the chimney. It would be me, my brother and sisters, and mom bringing up hot pans and cooking dishes of different sizes, weights, and enticing smells to the front door. Then, a kitchen room filled with beaming faces. All the “look who’s here” and “come in, come in”s were the very start of my Christmas evening. Nothing, though, was more perfect than seeing An Angel’s face. And no, not the one perched on the Christmas tree. The one sitting in the corner of the living room, in her thirty year old lounge chair, smiling at all her children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and cousins; laughing and telling stories of her youth or recent ones about her grandchildren, whom she loved.
This Angel always had one specific gift she bestowed to her grandchildren: pajamas. Each and every one of us received a personalized pajama set that she thought we would like most. And we did. She never disappointed because they were always perfect. The comfort and warmth of the pajamas were just as the Angel’s love held me. This Angel was my Nana. December for me was not really about the moments leading up to Christmas Day and receiving gifts, but the night of Christmas Eve that was centered around this sole person. This night was made for her just so she could surround herself with us all, something in this world that brought her more joy than anything. My Nana was the matriarch of my family. She was the red thread that tied us all together; and boy, were there a lot of us. Three daughters, three sons, and twenty-two grandchildren. Although we trumped our parents, aunts, and uncles with our size, we were all connected as one because of my Nana. There was no other person in this world who could make you feel like you were more on top of the world and more beautiful than she did. She made it seem so easy, so effortless, to create deep and meaningful bonds with someone else. Even if she did not know you, she wanted to. Man, did she want to know you and all about you– what made you smile, cry, laugh, inspire, question, angry, frustrated, determined, lonely, sad, excited, anything and everything this universe has to offer.
This was the Angel in my life. Her grace and poise was something I would try to mimic (never as good as she). She was a true lady, minus her rebellious edge she possessed when she was younger and transferred over into her old age to show how much of a badass Nana she was. That’s what gave her her spunk and attitude. She taught many life lessons to all of her children. Lessons you weren’t sure would mean something in the future but did. She had that kind of power that you didn’t think could exist. She was, still is, my Nana.
But, she’s gone. She has left behind her legacy that she had instilled into her twenty-two grandchildren and six children. It’s not all bad, though. My Nana’s life was meant to be celebrated, not grieved. That is not how she would want me to think of her parting with us. This Angel on earth had left to be amongst the clouds and stars, where she belonged. Although her distance from us is long and far, she has already wrapped around her red thread within our hearts. So as I see the fallen leaves coil, I stop myself from retracting from those who truly love me. As the freezing wind rushes by, I stop myself from being cold to others. And as the days quickly turn to nights, I stop myself from fearing what the next day will bring without Her being part of it. Because I know she wouldn’t want me to do that.
So, although December has changed completely for me, I know it is not the month where I now sympathize with the cold and long to see an Angel in her thirty year old lounge chair. It is the month where I hold my most precious memories and lock them away until they resurface for when times get hard; or surrounding myself with my family who winds the red thread within us all that my Nana had left behind... It is the month that means Nana, an Angel, to me.