© Lawren Harris

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.
Buck Ram

As I gazed at my friend’s Christmas tree laden with presents last night, a wave of sentimentality swept over me.

When I lived in Boston, my parents campaigned vigorously each year for my young family to visit at Christmas. The ten-hour drive to Toronto was always fraught with danger in December, particularly around Buffalo, where we often encountered terrible snowstorms. Despite our protestations to stay in the safety and comfort of our own home, my parents, then in their fifties, would tag on our heartstrings by saying, “this may be our last Christmas,” followed by some grizzly tale about a friend or relative who had met with an untimely death just months earlier.

We always resolved to have Christmas in our own home, but caved at the last minute and made the drive to celebrate with them. This modus operandi continued for over two decades, and for my children, Christmases have been associated with their grandparents’ hearth and home.

For the first time, we are not going to be spending Christmas with my parents as they moved into an independent living facility this week after months and months of deliberation and heartbreak. Christmas, as life, will go on – just a little differently this year.