The Hounds of Winter

With the closing of this weekend, I’ve made it past the halfway point of what I can only call “that time of year”. As the trees change over and the days shorten, my thoughts turn towards the family and friends that I’ve lost in the stretch of time between the end of September and New Year’s Day. During this just over three month span over the years, I’ve had all of my grandparents pass away, some great aunts and a great uncle, both of my aunts, and family friends. It’s not quite every week that signals the anniversary of a passing, but enough so that with one date comes the expectation of the next one. The joke in our family is that our calendars switch from September to counting down the days till January.

I’ve had family pass away on the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and on New Year’s Eve. I’ve been twice notified on Christmas Eve about a family member’s short term life expectancy. The only major holiday that is not touched by death is Halloween. Over the years it’s been a series of autumn funerals, some of which featuring snow for those in New England.

In dining with my parents this Thanksgiving, we found ourselves talking about how much we missed those people. As much as the tinge of death attaches itself to these holidays, I feel fortunate to have these close associations between the people and those days. It is a hearty reminder to me of remembrance (like Veteran’s Day), of being thankful for the people in my life (like Thanksgiving), of the joys and happiness of coming together as a family (like Christmas), and the promise of better times ahead (like New Year’s). While I wouldn’t say it is the best way to enhance the emotions of the seasons, it has been something that I’ve come to find as a unexpected boon over time. 

It’s not all doom and gloom; my brother and sister-in-law celebrate a wedding anniversary in November. (Hopefully, it will break the tradition of familial dying during this time period). I do hope everyone has a good holiday season, but pardon me if I don’t truly celebrate it till January 2nd.

Until then, I’ll be missing some people.

4 thoughts on “The Hounds of Winter

  1. yes. I boycott Easter these days, because all I can remember now is that my father’s funeral was the day before Easter in 2004. Takes the joy out of it.

    Hang in.

  2. I’m sorry to hear that this time if year is sad for you as well. My maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother both passed away on the same day in November, albeit years apart. It’s all compounded by the expectation to be cheerful and busy this time of year, isn’t it?

    Best wishes for you and your family – hang in there.

  3. Life seems infused with a bittersweet component…a seemingly random balance that can, too easily, shift one way or the other, resulting in our being caught off-guard on some intrinsic level to the events that confront us and move through us. It becomes quite difficult at times to back up enough to retain a larger view of things. It’s a bitch and, at the same time, reason for celebration. As much as living rips apart my heart on occasion, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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