Let the Decorations Begin

Every year, it happens. I decorate for Christmas.  And this year it is coming, brace yourself.  I will be in a Christmas decorating frenzy this year, this weekend.  it is time to make the house a wonderful, Christmassy delight, filled with all of the ornaments and decorations of our childhood, along with all of the new and sometimes tacky decorations I have collected over the years.  I am looking forward to this and looking forward to celebrating my favorite time of year.

This is the first year without Mom and dad, but I am determined to make it as happy as possible despite the grief. Grief is not a choice, but it is a choice as to how you handle it.  I will knowledge it and let the sadness wash over me when it hits.  But I refuse to curl up and let the holidays, or let life, pass me by.  I will celebrate this holiday season in their honor, carrying on the traditions, and making my own as well.  I will laugh through the tears, and embrace it all.

It is coming to the end of this hellacious year, and it will not go out with a whimper, no, it will go out with a triumphant soft glow.  All victories do not have to be loud or bright. Some victories are quiet, small but still powerful enough, with enough energy to burn through the minutiae. That is how this year will come to a close.  It will be better and higher than it started.

I am reminded of the fun and lightheartedness of past holidays in one of the most unlikely places:  Facebook.  The On This Day memories.  I am curious and go through the past years and find this gem.  And carry it with me as I move forward.


Day 28, Christmas decorations: Today I am thankful for Christmas decorations. This past Thanksgiving weekend, my Mother decided to pass her huge collection of Christmas Ornaments on to My sister and I. This was sad and exciting at the same time. Sad because she will not be putting up a Christmas Tree, exciting because the ornaments I have looked at since I was a little girl will now be hanging on my tree.

The decorating has already started and by the time it is all done, it will look like Christmas exploded in my house. Already there is mistletoe, Mr. and Mrs Claus by the front door and big red velvet bows. There are Christmas place mats and table clothes, bowls, candle holders, stockings and stocking holders. There are Christmas pot holders, mantle decorations, a table top Christmas tree, tinsel, wall hangings and Salt and pepper shakers. And that is just the beginning!

The Christmas tree will be put up and decorated tonight. My little Charlie Brown tree will be loaded down with Christmas ornaments old and new. There will be lights, balls, crosses, angels, bears, sheep, candy canes, mice, bells, bows, Santas, and even a Christmas Octopus. Oh, it will be wonderful. And the whole time the tree is being decorated, there will be Christmas music playing.

Did I mention I get a little excited and go maybe a little bit overboard with the Christmas decorations? But it makes me happy to sit at night, with all the lights off, except of the soft glow of my little Christmas tree, lights shining like little diamonds. Once I even kept it up until September. It was the New Years Tree, the St. Pat’s Day Tree, the Easter Tree, the Labor Day Tree…it was great even if all of my friends made fun of me and called me a redneck. I just hated the idea pf taking it down. (note: The ornaments get very dusty when left up that long. Dust often)

The first year I had a cat I made the mistake of putting the pretty tinsel onto the tree…and then I discovered a very colorful litter box. Oh you have not experienced the joys of pet ownership until you have fished multi-colored tinsel out of a little box.

Then there was the cat who loved to get a running start and fly into the Christmas tree. His name was Taz. I came home once and found all but one branch torn off the tree that year. Well, the branches he did d not try to eat anyway. That was also the year he ate my favorite strappy sandals, my iPod and my favorite sweater. Alas, I do not have that very sweet, albeit hungry kitty anymore.

There was the time I got tangled up in my Christmas tree and fell to the floor with a thud. I am sure to the outside public it might have looked as if the tree had come alive and was flailing around the floor. It might have even looked like a Christmas tree monster. Oddly enough, my cats have been terrified to come near the Christmas tree since then.

And this year will be extra special. I did not put a tree up last year as I was just too busy. That was the first year of my life that there was no Christmas tree, so this year must be extra special to make up for it.

So let the decorating begin!


The Thanksgiving Visitor

The first holiday without your parents is quite an event.  It can be filled with grief, sadness, depression, anxiety and more.  While this was the first holiday without both of my parents, it was not as bad as I thought it would be and was a lot better than last year.  Yes, there was moments when I broke down and cried, and I felt a deep longing in my soul, because I miss them so much.  But I know that neither of them are suffering and are at peace. They would not want me to curl up into a sad little ball – I can hear my mother say that is silly.  They would want me to get on with life, and carry them in my heart.  And even as I write that they would not want me to be sad, it is a melancholy that never truly does leave.

One of the things that made it possible to have joy was a visitor in the early hours on Thanksgiving morning.  To some, this may sound silly, or ridiculous.  But to those who have lost loved ones, I think it will sound beautiful.

It was one of the most vivid dreams that I have ever had.  It was so real, and I love dreams like that.  Mom and I were sitting on her couch.  She was smoking like she always did, lighting her cigarettes in her particular way, like I had seen her do thousands of times. She was lovely, beautiful even. She was relaxed and happy, like she used to be before she got so sick.  There was an ease and a calm about her.  It felt so good to be in her presence, so good to hear her voice.  And we talked about nothing, and laughed.

It seemed like it was late at night.  We would often stay up talking into the wee hours, about nothing in particular but always good conversation.  About politics, or crimes, or books, or the news and current events.  Or the Braves, or whatever she and Dad were planning.  Or her garden and what she wanted to planted or what vegetables she needed to pick.  She was always so full of interesting things.

And I looked at her, smiled and said “Mom, I have really missed this with you, it is so nice just to be here.”  and she looked and me and smiled, and hugged me.  But this time, it wasn’t a dream hug, where she disappears, or where I wake up before I hug her.  This was a real hug.  I felt her arms around me, and I felt my arms around her. I felt her hair against my face as I set my head on her shoulder.  And we sat there, in a wonderful embrace for a little while.  And then, almost uncontrollably I said over and over, I miss you, I miss you, I miss you, I miss you, I miss you.  And she hugged and held me tighter and closer.

Shortly afterward I woke up with the warmest feeling.  She was my Thanksgiving visitor, letting me know that even though they are no longer of this world, they are here, my angels watching over me.  My mother, my best friend, my confidant. I felt their presence all through the day and the weekend. And it made all the difference.