We returned home yesterday to find a small package in the mailbox. Remembering so many Christmases past, I was a child again. Back then excitement over the mailman dropping off packages bubbled up like great geysers of joy bursting from all five of us kids. There was such innocence in our curiosity; devoid of advertising-induced desires for the latest toy, we just wanted to know what it was and who sent it. Someone loved us enough to send a gift!
Every year packages arrived from our cousins. Their mother and ours were sisters and, though we lived 200 hundred miles apart, we were like extended siblings. This package, wrapped in the familiar brown paper the post office once required, was from one of our cousins. It was the first to arrive in many, many years. I wanted to open it and not wait as we always had to when we were young.
But such intense emotions filled my heart and burst out in all directions, not knowing how to be expressed. This was a package from John & Karen; and I knew it must hold a precious memory. For in August, John's sister, Kay had died quite unexpectedly. My cousin Kay just a few years older was gone. The sudden and cruel reality has left us all with eyes burning from tears and hearts weeping for the loss of time to spend laughing and just sharing life.
That a trucker driving a huge gravel truck had carelessly hit Kay as she tried to cross the street in downtown St. Charles is still so difficult to believe. Not a day goes by that I don't pause to remember her. Generous, kind, authentic, always meeting each of us with an open heart, really being present. Everyone who knew her shares the deep love and compassion that simply radiated from her.
Now there is this package that I slowly unwrap. There is small box wrapped in tissue paper, Christmas card greeting and a letter that at a glance looked like those familiar annual "brag" letters people send. I knew at once it was not one of those, but a tender remembering of Kay and a sharing of what our cousins have experienced since August.
What is here now in this moment? Deep sadness for the loss of this remarkable woman; deep gratitude for the gift of her life.
The package, as it turns out, contained an ornament from Kay's collection of Christmas decorations. They decided to give people who knew and loved Kay each an ornament. I received one of the "Little Women" Hallmark collection as each of my three sisters did. I smile as I look at the tiny Josephine "Jo" March and my mind's eye fills with images of Kay's huge collection of Madame Alexander dolls.
"Jo" will grace our Christmas tree, along with angels, santas, little drummer boys, nutcrackers, stars, bells, shiny balls and all the precious handmade ornaments from Christmases so long ago. New ornaments join our treasures as grandsons proudly add their special gifts and adorn the tree with love and family memories more precious than gold.