Monday, January 21, 2013

My Mom's Christmas Gift

When I was in high school, my mom and her friend bought these books that were supposed to be filled out by mothers to pass on to their daughters..  My mom loved Donna Green's artwork and her friend thought it would be a fun project.  My mom said they were like school girls comparing answers and giggling because some of the questions were a little over the top.   My mom wasn't necessarily known for her lavish meals or holiday meals.  There were a lot of questions about holiday meals and places to write in family recipes, to which my mom wrote with, "Dress up fancy and go out.
I stumbled upon this book during my "mom closet clean out" and on Thanksgiving night while I was outside doing puppy duty I started to read it.  I've read this book before and my mom's humor comes through in so many of her answers. Such as, "I'm famous for this recipe....  Mom's Cookies:  Buy a tube of Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough, eat half raw, bake other half.... give to neighbors, say it's a secret family recipe."

I sat in my backyard wrapped in a blanket, under the stars, and read while the tears flowed. I still miss my mom.  Earlier that morning I had stared at a mother and college age daughter in the grocery store to the point of embarrassment.  They were picking up last minute Thanksgiving items and buying things the daughter had missed while she was away at school.  I just watched them, envious of their chance to spend the holiday together.

The Christmas season was about to begin and I just wanted to cancel Christmas. My mom loved the Christmas Season and I couldn't fathom celebrating Christmas without my parents. It would be the first time  neither of my parents would be with me on Christmas. I felt terribly sorry for myself and I wanted to just ignore it the whole thing, instead of dealing with my feelings of grief.  

I looked at the upcoming holidays and saw it as a lot of chores.  Shopping, decorating, cooking, wrapping gifts, cleaning, all of them were activities I mostly enjoyed, but I couldn't get excited about it.  I would do all that work... for what?  It was a bad case of the "Bah Humbugs".  I knew I wanted to avoid it, because I would have the urge to call my mom and say, "We just *insert holiday activity*, it was amazing.  You should have seen ...."

Then I read this passage in my mom's own handwriting: 
"I would hope, Wendy, that you and your children will always be excited about Christmas preparation.  Never think of it as pure drudgery."

Those were the words I needed to hear. There is joy in all tasks, big and small during the holidays.  Some of my favorite memories of years prior has been wrapping presents with the kids help and delivering gifts.   This holiday season, I loved having them help decorate the tree and the living room.   They taped their school artwork to the wall and hung their paper plate wreaths on the front door with pride. They decorated the tree with me, clumping similar ornaments together. As for me, I savored it all.

I found joy throughout the entire season in all the tasks and felt like in some way my mom was with me during this holiday season.  I celebrated as she would have, and we even dressed up fancy one night to go out to dinner in my mom's honor. I felt my mom's love all around me this year and when Christmas was over, I packed up the tree with sadness.  I cried, because I was sad Christmas was over.   It had been such a wonderful time of year and my whole attitude had changed because of my mom's note.

The decorations are long gone but my mother's love still remains all around me and for that I am grateful.


... said...

This is beautiful, Wendy!

When you're stalking moms and their daughters in the grocery store with longing, I read your blog and feel that same longing. I wish I had what you had. You are so lucky. (And I say this in a positive way - not a whiny passive aggressive way!)

Brooke said...

Love, love, love this.