Every year, there is a certain moment that I can pinpoint when the beauty of the Season strikes me; and, I know that Christmas has arrived.  

It’s not the date on the calendar, or the perfect present opened but a feeling that overwhelms your heart. It could be the unexpected kindness of a stranger, the unbridled excitement of a child’s face anticipating Santa’s arrival or the jubilant strains of a choir heralding the birth of the Savior.  

I love Christmas … the sights, the music, gathering with friends and the time I get to share with family as we converge at my parents’ home. It’s something we look forward to every year … the whole family together laughing, exchanging stories and gifts.

Over the years, we have made the holiday trek to San Antonio, a car packed full of presents and excited children eager to see their grandfather’s Christmas light display and to see what treats awaited in their Nana’s kitchen.  

For the first time I can ever remember, my mother doesn’t have a Christmas tree. The lights that have always guided us to her house are dark this year. There is no Christmas music playing and missing are the beautifully wrapped packages and sweet aroma of banana breads and cookies baking in the oven.  

I am witnessing the changes of life and time that do not stop simply because the holidays are upon us.  

This year my brother and sisters and our families have gathered not to open pretty packages but to support my Mother and one another as we experience my Stepfather’s decline. For the last several years, we have watched the man who has loved us fiercely and etched an indelible mark on all of our lives, suffer from Alzheimer’s ... his illness robbing his mind of the details that have become our memories to treasure … the generous person he has always been, the songs he made up and sang for our children in his beautiful baritone voice, the rock he was for our mother.  And now, sadly, we are watching the body of this once strong man rapidly failing him as well.  

He had been hospitalized for the last month but has been brought home to be more comfortable and be with his family.

My Mother, who has been at his side, has tried to apologize to all of us for there being “no Christmas.” No one will accept her apology. You see, as we stood there encircling our father and grandfather, he looked at us and smiled with joy registering on his face. The unexpected gift of recognition and happiness as he called out our names was far more priceless than anything wrapped under a tree.  

And in that instant, standing one with the people I love, I knew that was the moment …That was Christmas.  

May you also share the blessed bonds of love of family this Christmas and Holiday Season.

With Warm Regards,

Carol Bush

Carol Bush serves as the Ellis County Judge.