"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" - Charlie Brown
Yes, Charlie Brown, my siblings and I know, because our mother taught us what Christmas is all about. Christmas was her favorite time of year and it was all about love - love for the Holy Family and for her own family. And it was also about joy - a pure, child-like joy that outshined the angel's halo topping the tree. And it was brighter than the colorful lights strung throughout the house. What a wonderful gift of memories she's given us!
Mom loved listening to the Christmas classics. When we got home from school, Dean Martin was often crooning "White Christmas" from the stereo as Mom sang along from the kitchen. And she loved Bing Crosby. I'll probably always tear up when I hear" I'll be home for Christmas," because it meant so much for Mom to have us all home for the holidays.
That first Christmas without her was like a lyric without music. I thought the next one would be gentler on the heart, but it wasn't. This year, I found comfort as I unpacked her Christmas tree. The little tree hadn't seen a Christmas since Mom's hands graced its branches with decorations. She loved that tree; we all did, knowing the jingle it put into her holiday season.
While some folks decorate their trees with a different theme each year, Mom's theme was always the same - family. Most of the ornaments were made by her grandchildren who were introduced to "Childhood Fun 101" at her kitchen table when they were barely old enough to hold a paintbrush. Branches were adorned with popcicle-stick reindeer, Plaster of Paris santas and angels, school pictures framed with construction paper, a salt dough Christmas tree hanging by a red-checked shoestring, and other ornaments designed by little hands. Bright packages circled the tree along with an assortment of Kewpie dolls, dressed in the holiday outfits she crocheted. Colorful lights , and lots of them, were a must. She loved the sight of gleaming lights!
While putting up Mom's tree, I was blindsided with warm memories of her making sugar cookies, fudge, peanut brittle, and glistening clouds of divinity. I flashbacked to the dining room table where she created snowmen out of Ivory Flakes, and to the living room where she flossed windows with manger scenes. In every scenario, Mom was singing, humming, or whistling.
Although song hasn't always come easy since her passing, I've know that loving memories have given us the soothing balm we need to ease the journey of loss. Tonight, the colorful lights on Mom's tree reflect through the window of time. Closing my eyes, I image the sound of angelic choirs singing as they herald in Christmas. And when they get to her favorite Bing Crosby tune, I imagine Mom, front and center, singing "Christmas Eve will find me, where the love light gleams ..."
Mom, you'll always be home for Christmas - not only in our dreams.