Finding our sunshine

When my siblings and I were growing up, our mother always sang a song to ensure she loved us, treasured us and would always be with us.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

It became a routine, of sorts, at bedtime especially. It was just something we grew up with. That was just what Mom sang.

As we grew up, we sometimes sang the song to ourselves as a self-soothing tactic when we needed it.

We kids sang it together occasionally, when we were together, if someone thought of it.

Last Sunday was the Mueller family Christmas. A couple of us, including me, didn’t go because we were scared of unknowingly bring this damn virus into the fold. I just didn’t know what else to do.

I was fine and kept telling myself I was doing the right thing by staying away – yet with my car keys in hand, I was several times tempted to just drive the two hours and say, “Virus be damned!”

But I didn’t.

I stayed home and imagined the infamously incredibly loud gathering taking place at Maria’s house nestled between Elgin and Raeville. I could smell the food and envision all the wrapping paper. I swear that even being in York, I could hear the booming noise of everyone talking over each other.

I thought about Christmasses past – ones only my siblings remember and ones that included the next round of little ones (who aren’t so little any longer).

I thought about the poinsettia I bought Mom four decades ago and the typewriter I got when I was 10. I thought about how the reindeer left tracks and ate hay in our yard every Christmas Eve. I thought about that awful cardboard pizza we loved so much the night before Christmas. And how everyone got drunk on Grandma Onie’s wine on Christmas Day.

I thought about how all of us have worked so hard to get through this weird, awful, stressful year.

And then there was a text, with a video attached, coming from those at the Mueller family Christmas.

I watched as they went around the room and exclaimed, “Merry Christmas.”

I remembered that this also would have been my mother’s birthday – poor lady had to share her birthday season with Jesus and never got the much deserved attention.

Then, I heard my sister, Kelly (the videographer) say, “Let’s sing the song.”

My niece, Brooke, somehow along the way learned to play the ukulele (I had no idea until that moment) and began to strum away (quite skillfully I might add).

And they began to sing.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

I watched and laughed and my eyes got moist with tears.

It was the most perfect Christmas present.

We were my mother’s sunshine.

We are each other’s sunshine.

And no matter where we are or what this crazy life brings to all of us, that will never, ever change.

We are each other’s sunshine.

My hope, for us and all of you, going into the new year, is that we find our sunshine, treasure it and never let it go away, no matter what unbelievable things this world may bring.

Because when it all comes down to it, that’s all we’ve really got.


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