Please join in and show me yours! Put a link in my comments.
Please join in and show me yours! Put a link in my comments.
Click on first photo to enlarge all.
The tree is finally up and decorated. (My plan to leave it decorated and just wrap it up didn’t work as well as it did last year. I had to rehang most of the ornaments, but at least the lights were up.) The little planter and succulent were a gift from Yolanda. She got it on her Mexico City trip. The vase is just 4 inches high and has an interesting story behind it. I had seen one exactly like it but a foot high in a shop in Sheridan, Wyoming and loved it but knew I could never get it back to Mexico intact. I did, however, take a photo of it which has mysteriously disappeared off my photo library. An amazing coincidence, as I hadn’t shown the photo to Yolanda and had no idea it came from Mexico. It is adorable and is sitting now on my desk. The painting was a birthday gift from my friend Glenda and the flowers were a welcome home gift from my house sitter, Brad.
Click on first photo to increase the size of all and to read captions.
My mother was the hero of Christmas. Decorated waste paper baskets from the church bazaar, that “Skunk” game I’d been begging for, played once and never again, that one last doll when I was eleven, purchased more for her own nostalgia than my need. The tree went up as the orange and brown of Thanksgiving was disposed of, and the jubilation of Christmas stretched on until New Years, when the tree came down.
For my dad, however, the end of Christmas was never quick enough. The tree lights hurt his eyes, he said, but I always wondered if there was more to it than that: some sparsity of the Christmases of his past that had broken its spirit in the heart of a young boy raised on a South Dakota prairie that furnished few rewards, let alone extravagent Christmases, but still expecting more, perhaps, than an orange in the toe of his sock. A pony, maybe, or a stick of hard candy, a jaunty new blue winter stocking cap or simply a mother more given to Christmas than his own busy midwife of a mother, always off to somewhere else.
In our mad months of enthusiasm over tinsel, ornaments resurrected from the attic and the mystery of wrapped boxes, we overlooked the remnants of that little boy’s pain, but some part of each of us, detecting it by some subconscious radar, never gave up trying to heal those hurts of former Christmases with tiny Black Hills Gold tie tacks, new wallets and papier-mâché sculptures meant to prod him from his apathy. It never quite worked, except for that sculpture, ugly in its craziness, laughed and pondered over, then left to age and weather on their unroofed patio until its demise, giving one small hope of reviving a small boy’s wonder over Christmas and the unexpected. His forbearance over the years made him, perhaps, another subtler hero of Christmas, just in his putting up with it.
The prompt words for today are orange, game, hero, jubilation and quick. Here are the links:
This year, I don’t feel jolly, can’t use Christmas as a balm.
I’ll settle for well-organized, painless, mobile, calm.
Ordinary’s fine with me—time to work with plants,
to lie with cats, throw balls for dogs, extinguish cutter ants,
file foot-high stacks of papers and clean my junk drawer out—
a shocking way to celebrate. Mundane, without a doubt.
I never thought that I’d grow up where Christmas was concerned.
I’m sure my metal Christmas tree is going to feel spurned.
The fact that I’m not using it this year is rather strange,
for I wrapped it, fully decorated, last year for a change.
It wouldn’t take an hour to bring it from above
and fall back into Christmas trappings that I truly love.
But the kittens would destroy it. Albeit, they’d have fun,
but that tree would be in tatters by the time that they were done.
The wisemen and the Christ child and dozens of nacimientos*,
the wreaths and lights and figurines–all holiday mementos,
I’ll leave packed up in boxes in the closets up on shelves—
Santas stacked on reindeer, nestled against elves.
This year instead of hanging decorations on the tree,
I’ll lie down on the sofa and let cats decorate me.
*A nacimiento is a nativity scene, but in Mexico, they consist of hundreds of different figures in addition to the traditional shepherds, wisemen, angels and holy family. Go HERE to see some of the surprising figures included in a Mexican nacimiento display.
The prompt today was jolly.
Ebb and flow, ebb and flow––
at first our lives seem very slow.
Once the Christmas tree came down,
vacuum cleaners all over town
removed needles curled and brown,
and echoed each child’s yearly whine
as they picked up remains of pine.
Why did Christmas have to go?
Then that slow tick of passing time
through other holidays sublime:
Valentine’s and Easter and
Mayday with its sleight-of-hand
as a basket-wielding band
(before they quickly pushed the bell,
turned on their heels and ran like Hell)
moved silently as any mime.
July 4th and Halloween
moved across the year’s broad screen
as days both secular and holy
that children loved came on so slowly.
Holidays just seemed to creep
trudging up a year so steep
impatient children had to weep
impatiently and make a scene.
Thanksgiving filled with birds to stuff
should have pleased them all enough,
but thoughts of Christmas swirled instead
through each greedy little head.
Christmas music, gifts and trees
pervade the brisk Thanksgiving breeze
bringing children to their knees.
Waiting for Christmas is so tough!!!
But years pass quicker as we get older.
From fresh to hot to crisp to colder.
Time that used to flow so thickly
suddenly moves by so quickly
that that dread April holiday
wherein we pay and pay and pay
does not seem far enough away
as we search for our taxes folder!!!
(Click on first photo and then on arrows to enlarge and move through gallery.)
Oddball Christmas! Cee’s Oddball Challenge, Dec. 24, 2015
Covering All the Bases
It’ll be a Blue Christmas Without You
I don’t know of anyone who loves Christmas as much as my mother did. She could barely wait for Thanksgiving to be over to put up her tree. Those trees were covered with icicles, bubble lights, angel hair and boxes and boxes of ornaments saved and added to over the years: blue or pink plastic birds whose legs fit over the branches so they seemed to be standing on them, a treetop angel with spun white hair and a face cracked and marbled over with age, strands of large lights and later dozens of strands of miniature ones, homemade ornaments, glass balls, plastic stars, candy canes—each year the number of ornaments grew. The tree was always fresh and the largest she could find, screwed into the Christmas tree holder that held water to keep the needles from falling off for as long as possible.
Under the tree was always a skirt of White pull-apart Christmas “snow,” a plastic church that lit up inside and presents, presents, presents: handmade gifts from the church bazaar, clothes and toys purchased in Pierre, 60 miles away or ordered from the Montgomery Wards or Sears catalogs. The tree went up the day after Thanksgiving and came down only after the new year had arrived, but the pine needles in the carpet crevasses and its borders along the wall remained like hidden memories to be discovered for months afterwards.
The year my mother died, my sister Patti could not bear to think of putting up a tree or celebrating Christmas. I was far away in Mexico and it was the first year in her life that she hadn’t celebrated Christmas with my mother. I knew she was grieving, but I was deep in my own sadness of the past year. In January, I had a hysterectomy and on the day I returned from the hospital, I learned that my mother had gone into the hospital.
My doctor had forbidden air travel but we considered putting a mattress in the back of the van and having my husband drive me from California to Wyoming, but my sister assured me there was no need. It was nothing serious—just a bout of pneumonia. We’d been there for Christmas less than a month before and we could come again once my mother returned home from the hospital.
But that trip was never to be experienced, for within a week, my mother had passed away. In March, my husband Bob flew to Michigan to be with his mother who had gone into the hospital, and after ten days, she, too, passed away. Then in September, two days before we were to drive down to Mexico to move into our new house, Bob discovered he had cancer and lived just three weeks. All-in-all, a sad year that had been moderated by our happiness in looking forward to a new life in Mexico.
A few months after Bob’s death, I went forward into that new life, but my sister was left in the town where she and her husband lived and where my mother had lived for the last six years of her life. Everything around her reminded her of my mother; and with the advent of Christmas, those memories grew more poignant.
The small Wyoming town where my sister lives is two hours south of Billings, Montana, which is her usual shopping town and where she goes to get her hair cut and to the doctor. A few weeks before Christmas, when a friend asked her to accompany her on a shopping trip there, she agreed. Even though her heart was not in it, as they browsed in a local store, she bought a few items, paid for them with her credit card and carried the bag to the car.
It was not until she got home and unpacked the bag that she found the small package in the bottom of her bag. She unwrapped it, trying to figure out just what it was––nothing, surely, that she had purchased. As she removed the final layer of paper, this is what was revealed:
Where had it come from? How had it gotten into the bag? She had not purchased it. It was not listed on her receipt. Nor had her friend purchased it, so it wasn’t a case of the clerk putting it in the wrong bag. Was it the last Christmas miracle provided by a mother who over the years had so faithfully purchased the new boxes of fragile icicles to hang above wrapped boxes that contained dolls, new Christmas dresses, ice skates, princess phones, bottles of bubble bath or miniature formals for our favorite dolls? Skunk games and paper dolls and books, first watches, necklaces, music boxes and drop seat pajamas? With no other explanation, my sister could not help but consider that perhaps it was a little message from my mother, urging her not to give up her faith in and enjoyment of Christmas.
It has been fourteen years since my mother died, and my sister has hung the ornament on her tree every Christmas since. It has been a few years since I spent Christmas with her, and I had forgotten this story, but yesterday, when I arrived in Phoenix to spend Christmas and took pictures of her tree, she repeated the story again.
Her tree is miniature in comparison with my mother’s tree, but it is infused with my mother’s love of Christmas and everything it entails —a childlike sense of wonder that to this very day, my mother encourages us to share. Tonight, as my sister and I fill stockings for each other, her husband Jim and the longtime friends who will arrive tomorrow, I’m sure she feels as I do––both of us “good girls” who are minding our mother by remembering to BELIEVE in the magic of Christmas.
HERE is a link to my favorite photo of my mother, plus other stories about her.
For more Christmas trees around the world, see: http://silverthreading.com/2015/12/06/christmas-trees-around-the-world/
and, consider posting a picture of your tree-topper HERE in Hugh’s blog to provide a meal for a hungry dog.