You said it all when you said, "So all I can do is attend to my own needs and try to be in as good a place as possible, ready for when it happens."
As the years go by the collage of my past Christmases increases in size and scope. Some years with parents, some as the parent, some at others' homes, some at hotels while traveling, one at Esalon, some with many people, some with few. Some Christmases I've been ill and quiet. Others have been festive with many parties. And a few I've spent alone.
One Christmas that stands out for me in a rich and beautiful way was a Christmas I spent alone. I wasn't ill. Family was away. I don't remember now why I didn't connect with friends. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I read a book that was full of stories based on the beliefs people held from all over the world.
I remember vaguely, a few phone calls. But what is most vivid in my mind is sitting on the couch, by the fire, with a pot of tea, reading these wonderful stories. Some made me smile. Some created awe and wonderment. A few brought tears.
I love spending Christmas with my family, with children bounding through the wrapping paper as they discover and rediscover their new gifts. I love the excitement in finding the reindeer teeth marks on the carrots we left along with the cookies for Santa. The crumbs in the dish are always viewed with tingling awe by the little ones.
A list of what I like about the holiday - festive, peaceful, spiritual, silly, fun and all the rest - would be quite lengthy. What I want to share with you is that the one Christmas I spent alone by the fire with the spirit of Christmas stands out more intensely and with greater lush spiritual satisfaction as the years pass.
When we keep our hearts open and our expectations closed, wonderful surprises can happen.