penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.


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Today I opened the ninth door of my advent calendar and found…loss.

One of my favourite Christmas songs is “I’ll be home for Christmas.”  It was written in 1943 for all the soldiers overseas during World War II.  But it’s sweet, low tones remind of all those that won’t, in fact, be coming home for Christmas this year.

Thirteen years ago, my young 22 year-old cousin stayed away for Thanksgiving. So all the relatives were really looking forward to him coming home for Christmas.  He was a big, strapping, handsome lad with a great grin and love of life.  He always seemed to plunge into life head first with an boundless optimism that carried everyone along with him.

But he never came home that Christmas. Instead in early December, he was found dead. We have always believed his death to have been a murder that has never been investigated. Sometimes the wheels of justice don’t turn at all.

That year, Christmas didn’t exist for anyone in the family.  It was too big, too impossible a loss.

I have never been a real follower of Christmas tradition.  But since that time, all traditions have lost meaning.  December just becomes a month to get through.

What I discovered later after my cousin’s death, was that he was doing a lot of work to help others.  He helped bring comfort to my grandparents in the last years of their lives.  He tried to help with the homeless.  He gave a lot of himself to everyone he met.

And so, each year, as Christmas tries to creep into my life again, I have tried to be inspired by his example.  While there are a lot of traditions and activities trying to snatch away my time and money, I to try to find small ways to help others in during this time.  It’s in these tiny gifts that I hope will bring us all to the Christmas of our dreams some days.


Written by pennyinacastle

December 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Random thoughts

Tagged with ,

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