Jo Ann Jaacks: A blue Christmas can be an opportunity for joy

Nativity scene

Nativity scene

/ Jo Ann Jaacks

Sometimes we think we can never recover what we have lost...and the truth is, we cannot. The missed opportunity, the death of a loved one, the strength and beauty of our youth, etc. Whatever is breaking our heart cannot be mitigated or recovered.

If this year’s holiday is a blue Christmas, as it is for me, I would share that my game plan is that I decided to replay all the happiness of the past.

I remember sleeping with my sister on my aunt Mollie’s pullout in the living room overlooking the fireplace, so we could catch Santa Claus in person. That never happened, but we were thrilled to see the next morning that all the cookies and milk were consumed, the socks were filled with treats and oranges and most glorious - there were gifts under the tree. It was many years later that I realized my father was not only our Santa Claus, but that of the elementary school holiday show (because he had a white beard and a soft heart).

I recalled the time, just days before Christmas, that I finally learned how to ice skate backwards on the nearby pond, just like my older cousins. I was the only one skating that afternoon and I never told anyone about my newfound prowess. Somehow, it made the accomplishment all the sweeter.

The best-ever gift under the tree was a second-hand bicycle because, after a brief “how to ride a bike” session with my father, I was flying. I was free!

In adulthood, it was all about Christmas parties and midnight mass. When I moved to Florida, I had fun buying, wrapping and mailing gifts to everyone back home. The family joke was the amount of scotch tape I used to ensure everything arrived in one piece.

One employer hired out the ballroom of a prominent South Miami hotel, everyone dressed to the nines got their photo taken as they arrived for a memento, enjoyed a fabulous buffet and bar and danced to live music. I finally left that employer to branch out with my own business, but I so missed that Christmas gala. When I married, my husband and I celebrated New Year’s Eve at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach.

My greatest joys were when my sister came down from Connecticut, bringing her young children, when my mother-in-law came from Germany to celebrate with us, and when my three grandchildren took turns changing up the Nativity scene.

We are all blessed in many ways, and that is the saving grace.