We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Dad died early December, and Mum was devastated, even though we all recognized his death was a merciful release and were grateful for a peaceful passing. We offered to have her come to our place for Christmas, but she refused, asking us instead to come home one last time.
What could we say? Three grandchildren - and they had attended the funeral and later donated their own money to the memorial set up in his name - aren't going to be denied Christmas. The tree went up, gifts went under, and there was all the excitement of Christmas. Even Santa was not neglected, as an old family friend was advised he was "it" and had to consume the ritual milk and cookies. As a reminder, a home-made "Santa" ornament was pinned to his lapel.
We're Christians: the message was given and church was attended. But we had a good family Christmas. And, as Mum's health deteriorated to the extent she had to move by the next June, it was indeed one last Christmas at home.
When I look back, I remember the joy of that Christmas. Mum was deeply and profoundly grieving - her comment over the next few years any time some future planning was mentioned was to the effect that she wouldn't be there - but there were the grandchildren to love and cherish and teach and admonish (years later, one grandchild, off to university and eating at the dorm cafeteria for the first time, was heard to say that a fair few of her dorm mates would benefit from having meals with Granny). Dad's absence was deeply felt, but it was still a "good" Christmas.