Each year when I take out my Christmas decorations, I say a prayer of thanksgiving for another year. I think about all that has happened during the past years. I remember the joys and sorrows, the celebrations and milestones in my life and in my family’s life.

My father and my granddaughter Molly died suddenly and without warning during a past Christmas season, and my memories of them fill me with love and sadness.

I hang the glass Santa that was on my tree from early childhood and I smile, thinking of the times I hung it with my dad. Or the year I had knee surgery and Molly gave me a ceramic ballet slipper ornament and said, “This is for the year Grandma couldn’t walk.” I treasure those memories.

I have a plethora of hand-carved ornaments done by a friend. He carved his last ornament before he died but didn’t paint it. His daughter took on the task and sent the ornament to everyone on his list that year. We all have special ornaments our children and grandchildren made in school – some with their pictures on them, so young and innocent.

The stories and memories go on and on with each ornament I hang and card I write. As I peruse the alphabet of my address book, I note the changes during the past year. My son and daughter have moved. I add the new addresses. Close friends have passed or are struggling with health issues. Someone has gotten married, and I change the name in my address book. It is all part of my ritual of the Christmas season.

I gave my family and friends a special gift this Christmas – my presence. I gave it quietly and humbly. I listened and absorbed the joy and laughter of being together with family and friends. I will hold those memories in my heart and soul throughout the year. I knew it was felt when my son said as I was leaving, “Mom, thank you for your presence during this visit.”

Does it get any better? For me his words felt like someone had given me a million dollars.

Today, I got out the boxes to put Christmas away for another year. I am filled with nostalgia and questions. Will I be here next year? I don’t feel morose or sad but understand how fragile and precious life is at 75. I think of the busy lives of my grown children and grandchildren. Where will they be next year at this time?

I carefully wrap each ornament and decoration and place them into boxes. As I put the last box on the shelf, I pause and say a soft “Goodbye and safe keeping!” as I close the closet door on Christmas 2014.

— Special to the Telegram