I’m certain moms everywhere will agree that this is the season when we’re called upon to give, give and give some more. How we manage to get through the holidays when additional tasks are piled onto our already overflowing platters is beyond comprehension. But we do.
Shop for and wrap gifts, for family and friends. Write greeting cards and letters sharing news of interest. Shop for, prepare and host festive meals. Acknowledge all those who are of service throughout the year with special tokens of appreciation. Plan and prepare for holiday trips to visit relatives, or to have them come and visit. Remember the less fortunate with hand-selected presents or volunteering one’s time and energy. As the poet Robert Frost wrote “But I have promises to keep…and miles to go before I sleep…and miles to go before I sleep.”
It took me nearly 2 weeks to decorate my house to the nines, being mindful not to exacerbate my back pain. Knowing of my daughter’s love for family traditions makes the effort more than worthwhile. Then I arranged for our menagerie of pets to be cared for while we made a long weekend visit to see my daughter perform in her ballet company’s Nutcracker. And, of course, I offered to finish the Christmas decorating she’d begun in her apartment.
I couldn’t resist cooking a huge pot of chili, most of which I froze for meals my daughter could easily defrost and heat later. I did the same with salisbury steak…hamburger patties with mushroom and onion seasoned gravy…a favorite of our family’s. I laundered her bed linens so that after spending the holidays with us, she’d return home to a freshly made bed in the New Year.
My husband and I grocery shopped, stocking the refrigerator and cupboards with favorite foods. No more “old Mother Hubbard,” when “hugmamma’s” around. And while our daughter spent her days at the theatre preparing for performances, we scrubbed and vacuumed and cleaned so that she wouldn’t feel the need to tidy up before heading out of town for some much needed R and R.
And now that she’s home with us, my husband and I dote upon our daughter, cherishing the limited time we have together as a family under the same roof once again. We tease each other good naturedly, laughing at “inside” jokes.
Late into the night my daughter and I watch black-and-white videos like Bing Crosby’s “Holiday Inn“ and Barbara Stanwyck‘s “Christmas in Connecticut.” Other times I groan as she and her dad watch “Polar Express,” a favorite that he plays every evening…dozing off and on throughout. I’ve probably seen more of it than my husband…not necessarily a good thing.
While dad’s up to his eyeballs in paperwork at the office, my daughter and I scurry about like Cinderella‘s mice…driving to appointments…last minute shopping…visiting with acquaintances for a few minutes…catching quick bites, whenever and wherever we can.
In the evenings, we all collapse into our favorite chairs…and veg…like lumps of coal. Not a bad thing in this case. Time to catch our breaths before starting all over again tomorrow…more appointments…more waiting…more driving. But this mom wouldn’t have it any other way. Time with my daughter is a gift which I never take for granted.
And we’ve decided to add one more thing to our holiday “to do” list…to spend Christmas Day preparing dishes to serve to those less fortunate in our community. We’ll join other volunteers in trying to bring a little happiness to some who might otherwise find it very difficult to come by.
I find the best part of Christmas is…in the giving. I know I come by that trait from my mom. Growing up I remember when she painstakingly crafted wreaths as gifts from wire hangers, newspapers and fronds of evergreen gathered in our annual outing to the countryside in search of the perfect Christmas tree.
Yes…there were groves of evergreen scattered here and there in the more elevated temperatures in Kula on the island of Maui. The trees were usually on private property where my mom would venture to knock on the door of the owner’s house, and ask if we might cut down one of their trees. I can’t ever remember being turned away. Perhaps the sight of a single mom, an island native, with several children in tow tugged at the heartstrings of those who heard her humble request.
Thinking back upon such times, images flood my mind of being invited inside to partake of cookies and milk and warm conversation. My mom, at her best, genuine conviviality overflowing onto those in her presence. Who could resist granting her wish for a Christmas tree for her family…and refusing the $5 she offered wholeheartedly?
So in turn, my mom would find joy in giving to others…what she herself made. I would always help deliver the products of our own labor…for we too learned to make what we couldn’t buy. At the time it always seemed far more exciting to receive the store bought items given to us in return..candies, small toys, board games.
Although handcrafting presents has long since fallen by the way side, giving to others brings me great pleasure and is something that I’ve continued in the tradition of my mom. Seeing someone’s eyes light up with wonder at receiving a tangible expression of my care and concern for him, or her, is a gift to me…that lasts a lifetime. And so…
…i wish you happiness…in the gifts of small, precious moments…throughout the holidays…and all the days…of your wonderful life…