Christmas With My Mum

December 25, 2015

Christmas makes me think of my favorite people, particularly my Mum, who was without question my favorite person. I wish I could call home for the holidays to hear my mother’s voice again, but that home is long gone. I can’t express the immensity of joy my mother got out of Christmas. She loved everything about it. She loved to light candles on ChristmasEve and sing carols in the candlelight. Every year, the family would sit around the living room and gaze at the candle and sing songs for hours. Our favorites songs to sing were usually “Away In A Manger” and “Silent Night”. Rudolph and Frosty would make an appearance, but me and my mom liked the soft sentimental songs more than the others.

One year in high school wood shop, my brother Keith made a candle holder that my mother loved so much that she hung it on our living room wall above a painting of the Virgin Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus. The painting had been a gift from my father to my mother on Christmas the year that I was born. The candle holder made by my brother held a beautiful red taper candle, protected by glass, which we only lit at Christmas time. The combined elements of candle, painting, and Christmastime created a touch of spirit and wonderful energy, and I grew up always loving candlelight because of it.

My Mother loved decorating our Christmas tree. I would always find her sitting on the living room floor adding layer upon layer of ornaments carefully unwrapped from their past year of hibernation. Some of these gorgeous colored bulbs and bells had been around longer than I had been alive. My mother was famous for the care she put into her immaculate gift-wrapping and her signature double bows. Every year, without fail, we all received a hand-made Christmas cracker. On Christmas morning, I would run down the stairs to find all of the presents from Santa and my parents, spread one on top of the other like tiles across the living room floor. They would be so densely packed from wall to wall that it was impossible to enter. The tree would twinkle from it’s corner creating the glow that only colored lights and gold garland can make. The energy was magical; the joy was palpable.

My favorite present was usually given by Dad, and referred to by my Mom as “Your Big Gift”. It was always tucked quietly behind the tree, and to get to it I would have to swim through the ocean of colored wrapped presents, opening them one at a time to clear a path to the tree. Under the wrappings were always underwear, colored long johns, and a traditional half pack of white socks which I loved and put on right away. I always shared that moment with my older brother Duane, who would receive an identical package. “Three each” my mother would always say while she laughed. I imagine that one year my Mother forgot to get two packages of socks, so decided to split them and it became a tradition. Me and Duane always joked and laughed as we opened them. I can see him laughing now in my memory. A fresh pair of white socks are still one of my favorite things.

My mother’s presents were thoughtful, and as time went on I understood more and more what she was trying to tell me by giving them. A lot of the gifts were warm clothes, so she was saying “bundle up and stay warm,” but the feeling of Christmas she gave was the greatest present of all. She told me that one year when she was a kid, her favorite present was a Doctor’s Kit, and her sister Bobbie got a matching Nurse’s kit. None of the gifts were ever better than the crackling of a magical fireplace me and my mother would sit in front of many years later, on the very last Christmas we would share together.