Sunday, December 23, 2012
Blog 56: How Do You Pick The Last Christmas Card?
I went to the store the other day, looking for a Christmas card for my mom. As I perused the cards on the shelf, it suddenly occurred to me that this may be the last Christmas card I buy for my mom. That thought saddened me. It made picking out a card much more of an emotional experience than usual. How do you pick out the last Christmas card you buy for your mom, the one who made Christmas so magical and memorable for the family, the person you love so much ? I started feeling guilty for having those thoughts. Mom could be here a lot longer than what we think. She could make a big turn around, start eating more food again, hang on to life. She could surprise us all. She could! But, she may not. Even if she is here next year, she may not know us anymore. Already she doesn’t show any interest in cards and things like that anymore. She used to love them. I realized that this card I choose has more meaning for me than it will my mom.
So, what card do I want for my mom? I searched a couple of stores before I found the card that made my eyes well up with tears. When that happens, I know I’ve got the right card. Along with the beautiful Christmas poem already inscribed, I wrote my own personal message inside the card. I poured my heart out and as I went to the mailbox to mail it, I paused. I stopped and held the card to my heart as if hugging my mom, and as my eyes welled up with tears again, I rubbed my fingers across the card and kissed it and said 'I love you Mom' before I placed it in the mailbox. I sent my love across the miles and hoped my mom would somehow feel it when she gets the card. Why was this so hard?
My daughter came over the other day and we were talking about Christmas and my mom came up in our conversation, as she often does. I showed her some things my mom, her nana, bought for me in past Christmases. Rose told me about some of the gifts she still has that nana bought for her. One of the gifts my mom gave me is a little music box that plays the song "Unchained Melody". I tried to upload a short video of it here but it wouldn't upload. I had a gulp in my throat when I played it. My granddaughter wanted to hold it, but I gently told her that it was something that was very special and she can look at it but not play with it. I told Rose that someday one of her girls will get this. Another gift my mom gave me is this...
She bought this for me in Dec. of 1994, after I had a minor surgery. Everything my mom bought me has so much more meaning to me now. I even saved an empty lotion bottle, which was a birthday gift from a few years ago.
Rose asked me if I remember the last gift my mom bought for me, and I said yes, as I went to my room and took the sweater out of my closet. As soon as I touched the sweater I started to cry. How come I’m so emotional now? I can’t help it. I brought the sweater out to her and showed her. Rose hugged me as I told her the story about Mom buying the sweater. I said I was with nana when she picked out five sweaters, one for each of her daughters. I will keep it forever. Mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s then, and she was going through a difficult transition period that you can read about in my earlier posts. She still liked to go shopping at Dillard’s. That particular day she wanted to go, but she had been out of sorts and agitated and tired all day. I brought her there to make her happy and to help her because she was worried that she hadn't bought anything for her daughters yet. The store clerk knew her there and she saw the cognitive decline with Mom. As she rang up the purchase, she got out a chair for Mom to sit in because she could tell my mom was very worn out.
When I put up my Christmas tree a few weeks ago, I realized the angel on top reflects in the mirror on the wall. This mirror hung on my mom’s living room wall for 38 years. When I look at it, it takes me back in time to when I was 18 years old and my dad gave me $40 to buy my mom a gift. My sister Lynda and I went shopping and we picked out this mirror and two sconces. The mirror was put out in the garage when my mom’s house was sold, and I took it out of a box and wrapped it up to protect it, and I carried it on the plane trip home with me. It makes me smile to see the angel in the mirror, and I look at it as a sign that God has sent an angel to watch over Mom. Maybe it’s an angel to watch over all of my family.
I love listening to Christmas music and I do believe it is my favorite of all music ever made. It often conjures up memories of past Christmases...those of my childhood and of my children's younger years. Christmas was such a magical time when we were kids. Mom made our Christmases so special, with presents piled under the Christmas tree. We would beg her to leave the tree lights on during the night on Christmas Eve. Mom would worry that the real tree would catch fire, but she said she'd leave the lights on for us. I'm sure she turned them off as soon as we fell asleep and then got up early to turn them on again. Of course, we thought she left them on all night. She was probably up late wrapping more presents. She would get up early in the morning and put more gifts under the tree from Santa, even when we were older and no longer believed in Santa Claus. She’d make hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls and turn on the Christmas music on the record player. We’d sit there by the tree with the twinkling lights, scanning the boxes for our name. The anticipation was the best part. I can see it now. I can feel the warmth, the excitement. I can hear our voices. We were young, we were happy, we were healthy, and we had each other. We all loved each other so much. I miss those Christmases. I hope I have made, and am making, more wonderful Christmas memories for my children and grandchildren, as my mom did for all of us.
Before I close on this blog post I just have to mention how deeply saddened I have been by the senseless killings of 20 children and 6 adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. No matter how bad you think your life is, someone else has it worse. How someone can look into the face of a child and pull a trigger to kill them is beyond me. I’ve felt a heavy heart this Christmas season because of this tragedy. I have three grandchildren not much younger than these children. I know our entire nation, and the world, has mourned because of this horrible event. There is no explanation, and all we can hope and pray for is that God gives these families who have lost a loved one the strength to go on and a purpose for living.
May peace be with you all, and may God bless you this Christmas season.