I wasn’t going to write about Christmas, but here I am at 6am on Christmas Eve morning, reading lots of posts about Christmas, and I felt like adding my seasonal voice to the mix. Let me start by saying, I love Christmas!
When I was a child, my Mom adored being festive; she had boxes of decorations for every holiday and made sure that the rooms, windows and exteriors of the house were appropriately adorned. Christmas was her favorite; although Halloween did run a pretty close second. Every year, upon the arrival of December, my Mom would open the plethora of Christmas boxes, overflowing with elf figurines, tiny trees, dancing Santas, lights, paper cutout snowflakes and every other (non religious) Christmas decoration you could imagine, and transform our house into a seasonal feast for the eyes.
During the first week of December, she would bring home the tree. She lit a fire and made pots of tea and we spent the day decorating the fragrant branches with ornaments that had been around since before I was born. My moms exuberance about the holiday was catching and we couldn’t help but be swept away in it; she made the entire month of December shiny and joyful and fun. We celebrated the season and the month of December, not just one day. It was a celebration of life and of love; it was a time to wrap up in the comfort of home and family. We were lucky.
My Mom never lost her love of Christmas, even when she got sick. I was 13 when she was diagnosed with cancer, but even in the years when she was the sickest, she had a magical ability to conjure up joy. For her very last Christmas, my mom was in the hospital, but she insisted that we celebrate. We brought Christmas to her hospital room and she, as always, brought love and light.
8 days after Christmas, my Mom died. For years, I couldn’t celebrate Christmas, and when I tried, it felt empty and wrong. It was as if the light of Christmas had been extinguished with my Mom’s light. After her death, I slipped into darkness; I couldn’t breathe or feel anything. Christmas became something to dread, because she wasn’t there to make it beautiful, to bring it to life.
I turned my back on Christmas, rejected its trappings and merriment, but time and love eventually brought me back into the arms of the season. I came to a place where I could feel grateful for having known and loved someone as magical as my Mom, rather than just feeling the pain of her absence. I started thinking about how lucky I was to have had a Mom who made Christmas so special. I was slowly coming around, and then, 9 years ago, I met my husband and found myself actually getting excited about Christmas. With my husband, I found joy and home, and I wanted to share a little bit of my Mom’s magic, which, I realized, had been with me all along.