Thanksgiving has come and gone and now Christmas season is well under way. What a difference a year can make. The saying goes that the worst year of grief is always the first year. While I still experience a lot of sad moments, the grief this season is very different from last- a testimony to what God has done in my life, as well as adding truth to the previous given statement. Last Christmas, I have to admit, I was in an ugly place. I didn't want to shop, didn't want to listen to the music, didn't want to decorate, just wanted to skip the entire holiday, even though I knew in my heart it wasn't what mom would want. This year, it's different. I have really enjoyed decorating my home.
I have done baking again this year (which is one of my traditional holiday activities, one tradition my mom always did, which she carried from her mom, which I am now trying to pass on to my kids). I have to admit, I teared up a few times while baking and while baking one particular cookie mom used to always make, I really wish I could've called her because it just wasn't turning out like hers. But it felt good to bake again. I laughed with the kids (in between their moments of arguing whose turn it was to add the ingredient!) . It's been fun
I am enjoying shopping for the family.
Last night we went to our son's christmas school musical play, and it brought many memories. I will say it struck me deeply when one set of grandparents was there and my dad was there....without mom. Of course I know that, but there are times it just sticks out and pokes me and hurts. It lasted a moment for me, a private moment of words between me and God for how I missed my mom there, and then I moved on and enjoyed the program. I recalled my 3rd grade musical. At my school growing up, though it was a public school, we were still allowed to sing the traditional Christmas songs and even act out the Christmas nativity scene. That 3rd grade year, I held a part in the play, complete with a solo and a costume. The song was about the different animals in the barn that were there when Jesus was born. I was the "Red and White cow" (just follow me on this....). My song went like this: "I said the cow all white and red, I gave him my manger for his bed, I gave him my hay to pillow his head, I said the cow all white and red." My mom worked hours on my costume and she did an amazing job. It was truly white and red and complete with a head piece and tail. I went on for a few years to wear that as a halloween costume. My mom was a true seamstress ( a trait which i have most definitely NOT inherited!). Memories...they are everywhere, at this season especially.
Last year I attended a grief group, which was a good experience for me. In the group, we talked about starting a "new" tradition after the loved one passed , to sort of be a way of remembering them at the season. Last year, I wasn't ready to really do that. This year, I went back to the baking-and baking mom's cookies. We celebrated every year on Christmas eve-opened all our presents Christmas eve. I went to the cemetary and took flowers on Christmas eve last year, and will likely do the same this year. Mom loved Christmas.
She found joy in everything, even the years there was no money almost for buying gifts. My mom got excited to get a laundry hamper or a trash can. She never asked for anything that wasn't practical. I want to return to that simplicity. There is so much at our finger tips all the time, somewhere along the way, I have to admit, I've lost some of that simplicity. My mom was full of lessons she didn't even know she was teaching....and still is.
God has brought me far from where I was last year, and only He could do that. I am excited to celebrate His birth this year. We do celebrate, or have reason to , every day, but at this time of year, it's more in the forefront of the mind. And I have a smile on my face to know that my mom is celebrating in front, face to face with Jesus this year. here are a few pictures from the past for you to get a picture of what Christmas was like growing up, and what mom was like....
Mom, in her simplicity. She got a stuffed pig she collected pigs) and wanted her friend to see her with the gift so we took a photo to send her.
This was the year our heat went out at Christmas and we sat in the kitchen in our coats around the card table and oven open to open presents. Of course, mom was taking the pictures.
Mom opening pots....again, the practicality. And yes, that is me, also enjoying simplicity of earmuffs and gloves as a gift.
every year, we acted out the Christmas story. Here is me and my younger brother, playing Joseph and Mary, with baby Jesus.