Rebuilding the cornerstones

Published 9:01 pm Friday, December 11, 2009

The best things about Christmas are hard to define sometimes. For me, it’s never been the gifts. And, unlike the traditional meal of Thanksgiving, Christmas food was always varied and different, thus unmemorable, from year to year when I was growing up.

So the cornerstones of Christmas have always been very gray for me. This may explain why I’ve not been much of a fan of Christmas. And while some may equate a statement like that to saying “I’m not a big fan of breathing air,” I simply mean it to say that over time it’s come to be more like something that has to be done and less like something that should be enjoyed.

The greatest cornerstones of Christmas, though, have always been my mother and my siblings. There was always a feeling upon walking into my mother’s house. The smell of fresh peanuts roasting in her oven and something good cooking on the stove went a long way in getting me in the holiday spirit.

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But with the passing of my mother this year and with my siblings scattered all over, the Christmas season is looking more gray than ever right now.

Being the optimist that I am, though, and knowing full well that my mother’s spirit is with me, I realize now that I must set out to rebuild my cornerstones this year.

Not enjoying this season of giving would be disrespectful to my mother’s memory, and in opposition to the fun-loving spirit she instilled in me. And even though it’s hard to carry on without her physical presence, it’s still very possible to share the laughs and love with her in that special place in the heart where we all keep our loved ones, past and present.

So, I am resolved to try to find a way to enjoy the sights, sounds and wonderful people of the holiday season, not just for me, but for my mother as well.

Also, I can still cherish the presence of my brothers and sister, though scattered from Charlotte, N.C. to Ft. Washington, Md. And whether I see them or not this holiday season, I’ll be sure to let them know that I love them and miss them and that the memories we share of Christmases past are the ties that bind.

Mostly though, in my efforts to rebuild some holiday cornerstones this year, I will try to cherish that which is right in front of me — those things and people that make up everyday life. They may not be family. They may not even be friends. But they are, every one, reasons to celebrate.

So, Suffolk, you may not have gotten the Holiday Parade this year — one of the things that help to define one’s holiday — but you still have millions of reasons to celebrate. You still have the cornerstones on which to build a great holiday — your loved ones.

Because, as I rebuild my cornerstones, I’ve discovered that the holidays are not about what you have, but what you make of them.

TROY COOPER is the page designer for the Suffolk News-Herald. He can be reached at