I have always had a very special relationship with this holiday. During the first part of my life, it was the time when my dad would pick up my godmother (and namesake) from Skokie and she'd come with us to church where we'd sing Christmas carols and dim the lights while lighting our candles. It was a very special time of my life as she got sick with Altheizmer's Disease when I was 10 and we had to put her in a home where she stayed until she passed away when I was 15. And then we'd go to my dad's mom's house and she'd have all the decorations out, there would be mountains of presents and I'd get to see my favorite person in the world, my aunt. My grandmother's house was a 1 story brownstone in Park Ridge. It had to be a 1 story because my grandfather was blind and couldn't handle stairs. They moved into that house from Bensenville (a house that was not part of my childhood) when he started losing his eye sight. I loved going there and looking through all of the bookshelves at all the books my grandma saved. They were all clouded in dust and made my eyes burn but I didn't care. The one thing I didn't like was having to sleep in my dad and uncle's old room. I'm pretty sure it was haunted because I always had nightmares and felt like someone was in there with me. It was funny... my grandma would always make me sleep in that room when I would have been much happier sleeping in the living room or the middle room if she bothered cleaning it out but it was filled with all of her artwork.
Anyway... when I was 15 years old, my grandmother passed away. She had hemochromochrosis, a liver illness that decayed her body in 4 months from the inside out. The last night that I saw her was December 19th, and it also happened to be the Winter Solstice. I remember this because I remember my dad saying something about it being the longest night of the year. So, in past years, I've always honored her spirit on the Solstice. She loved Christmas so it was only fitting that she'd also decide to pass away on December 25th, 1997.
This time of year always has me thinking about how far I've come in my life and how I know she'd be proud of the woman I've become. I got my Christmas card in the mail today from the winter ritual and the words just reminded me of all the love and joy this holiday and time of year has always brought me. I'm so thankful to have such beautiful people in my life and I know in some way my grandmother lead me to these people. I'm just sorry that it took me so long to get here. But.. I'm ready to see what this new year will bring. I'm ready to finally be initiated into my coven family. Thank you all.