Early December 2017. I met up with a friend to exchange gifts like we always did, meeting for lunch at one of our favorite lunch places close by.  We have met for years in December to exchange gifts and I remember that lunch so clearly even six years later.  We talked about plans for Christmas with all of our kids being home, what we would serve, gifts yet to purchase and plans for the New Year.  It was a really nice lunch and I remember thinking as I got in the car that cold but sunny day how glad I was to have made arrangements to meet up for lunch with her.  The gift she had given me was a Liberty of London Journal from Anthropologie…

A photo from our last Christmas with my Dad…

     Christmas 2017.  Usual family Christmas.  Church Christmas Eve, breakfast with our kids, dinner at our house with Mom & Dad, my brother and his family and another get together the following day at Sasha’s.  I remember on the 30th,   Zach, Alex, my Dad and I helped Alex move back from the West side of the state where he had been working.   It was bitter cold, below zero and as we got closer to the other side of the state, the more snow there was.  My Dad was glad to be with us, supervising and telling us how to pack the van.  We took him around town to see where Alex had been working and living and headed back.  Interestingly, I remember so much of that day so vividly, the cold, my Dad giving directions and the bright sunshine on the ride back.  A couple weeks later, we celebrated Zach’s 20th Birthday and then he was heading off to Dallas.  He had left school early  and was embarking on a new chapter in his life that would be the beginning of his career in tech.   My Dad went with us to the airport, gave Zach parting words of advice in the car and he was on his way to “seek his fortune.”  Brad suggested dinner out, so we went to one of our favorite places.  When we got there, he said that there was something he needed to tell me.  My friend who I had lunch with in December had been diagnosed with an inoperable terminal cancer.  By the end of July both my father and my friend were gone.  They both  had experienced their “Last Christmas.”  Looking back, we didn’t know that and maybe that’s why I can recall so many of the details of that last Christmas for them both.

     You just never know when the last one will be for you or anyone else.  All of our days are numbered and the older you get, the less there are in front of you.  When you’re young you may not think of the time like that, it’s a odds thing, you are healthy, “chances are” you’ll have many more in front of you, yet accidents happen and we’re all a phone call or second away from a life altering event.  No one is ever immune from that.  

     Life can be busy and sometimes messy.  We can get caught up in our own lives and hassles that can prevent us from truly enjoying the people we love and cherishing each moment.  We’ve all been guilty of getting caught up in the things that don’t matter and taking people for granted.  Maybe not getting together with the longtime friend or making that phone call to the Aunt because you are emotionally drained from getting up with the baby or the exhausting work week.  That the gifts aren’t perfectly wrapped or the cookies don’t look like the Instagram post you hoped they would.  Maybe you didn’t get to all the workouts you hoped to or the Christmas cards didn’t get out on time with the perfect family photo.  If these tasks are an easy checked off your box and not a hassle, they help you feel in the mood of the season or they are part of the traditions you enjoy and look forward to well do them and go for it.   However, if the thought of getting them done causes consternation in your life, eliminate them and any frivolous things that really don’t matter.  In my book, “It’s a Great Day To..Gather Around a Table, I point out that getting the family gathering catered,  enlisting everyone coming to Christmas dinner to bring a dish to help out or use paper plates if that eliminates some stress in your life.  Focus on those you love, the time spent together and most importantly, the birth of Jesus. 

     In June of 2015, George Michael checked himself into a world renowned drug and rehabilitation center.  He had struggled for years with substance abuse.  He had achieve professional success early on and so quickly, maybe it was the pressure to succeed or who knows where it came from but he was getting tired and was mentally and physically exhausted.  He had hoped that this would be the answer.  He celebrated Christmas at the end of 2015 and little he know that he’d be celebrating his “Last  Christmas.” On a side note, he had a song by that title, recorded in 1986-which was on a little different topic.  In December of 2021, maybe it was all the avenues to purchase and hear music or that it was the end of Covid and people had more time to sit around and listen to music, but George’s hit with his former band member, Andrew Ridgley, finally hit #1 on the charts of 2021, 37 years after it’s release with WHAM.  It would have been nice for George to have experienced that milestone of his famous song.

Julie Christie and Warren Beatty in the famous last scene in the movie “Heaven Can Wait” (my favorite movie of all times).

      We just don’t know, most likely, which Christmas will be our last.  Treasure each one that you have to be with those you love.  It’s easy to take for granted the people we see everyday or those who are closest to us and maybe even not appreciate their special and unique qualities.  When we treasure time spent with someone as if it could be the last time we see them or the “Last Christmas,” the little insignificant things  don’t matter and we don’t let petty differences interfere with the relationship.  There’s a scene in the movie “Heaven Can Wait” with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, near the end of her movie and he looks at her as if it could be the last time he sees her and he says, “You won’t forget me will you?” And she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but he knows he could be taken at any moment. You can see him studying and appreciating her face.  you see in his eyes the attention to the importance of the moment.

     Enjoy your people this week and love them as if it is your…Last Christmas…Merry Christmas ❤️ 

Author, Mary Yana Burau