Christmas Day has come and gone and we survived. It was the first Christmas without my mom. My mom loved everything about Christmas. Many years, she began decorating for Christmas almost before the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers were in the fridge. She decorated every room in her house, except the bedrooms. I’m sure that’s where I got my love of decorating for Christmas. (I don’t love taking the decorations down.) She loved the Christmas carols and for as long as I can remember until her health began to fail, she sang in the Christmas cantatas and special Christmas programs at her church.
For years, her sister, my aunt Grace, would arrive early on Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, and they would begin baking dozens of different Christmas cookies, candies and cakes. By late the next day, they were exhausted but proud. There was enough cookies, candies, and cakes to open their own bakery. But that’s not why they did it. They divided the baked goods, and my mom gave some away in small gift boxes and used the remainder to serve, as she and my dad entertained many times in December. When my sister and I married, it became our tradition to join in on the baking days.
Marie, my sister, and I would also take my mom shopping one day during December. For reasons I won’t go into here, my mom never drove, even though she learned how and got her driver’s license. So we would take her shopping. But it wasn’t a hardship or inconvenience. We loved spending the day with her at the malls as she shopped for my dad and other relatives and friends.
This year, my sister and I carried on these traditions started years ago. We shopped and laughed together one day. One afternoon, we baked and we laughed. (If you don’t believe I baked, check out my Facebook page. I have pictures to prove it.)
On Christmas Day, my sister and her family had their Christmas meal at lunch and exchanged their gifts. Then, those who could come, including my dad, came to my home for dinner and sharing gifts. Everyone did well until my daughter opened her’s and Stephen’s gift from my dad. She got teary-eyed, then I got teary-eyed and my sister’s eyes filled with tears. That only lasted a moment and we moved forward.
I’m at my sister’s now, staying with my dad while Marie and her husband take a long weekend break. I asked my dad how Christmas lunch went and he answered, “It went okay. But it just wasn’t the same.”
And he’s right. It just wasn’t the same.