When we were going through Mom’s basement in August, a discovery was made. In the dregs of one of her many stuffed bags of holiday tissue paper and bows, there was a dusty, rather dull looking black box. Inside the box was the ornament shown here, saying:
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM HEAVEN
I love you all dearly,
Now don’t shed a tear.
I’m spending my Christmas
With Jesus this year.
As I read these words on this ornament in my mother’s dusty basement, I felt… shocked. I sort of crumbled inside. And in my minds eye I could see myself shaking her and screaming at her: “Why?? Why would you buy such a thing???” And after I stopped crying and calmed down a bit, I wondered if she’d bought it in memory of her own father who had died a couple years before. And it had lain there waiting for me to find it instead. Whatever her reason, I’ll never be able to ask her.
I packed the ornament along with the rest of Mom’s Christmas items and we squirreled them down in my sisters basement until we had more time and strength to go through it all. That happened a few weeks ago.
We spent an evening in early December, us siblings and family, going through Mom’s many Christmas tubs. We found our first baby ornaments. We lost count of all the angels she had. We looked through the hand-crafted candy canes and bead strings. We sorted through her numerous nativity sets. And I found that ornament again. So I took it home with me.
I have looked at it every time I’ve been in the vicinity of our tree. Its presence hurts, and soothes. It’s painful and comforting. I love it, and I hate it. Most of all I wish, as I have in some way or other ever day since July 16th, that she was still here to have it hang on her own tree instead of mine.
The rest of our Christmas holidays were schizophrenic for me. I enjoyed seeing Christmas through my children’s eyes. Seeing Mabel light up at the mention of Santa and his reindeer was so sweet. Watching her open presents Christmas morning, and loving everything that was given to her, was special.
And playing in the snow! So much fun! Seeing Lincoln’s eyes go round with wonder at all the cold white stuff on the ground!
And in the back of my head, my grief still loitered, living in recesses of my soul and pouring out at unexpected moments. Seeing Mom’s lawn furniture covered in unblemished drifts of white causes my heart to hitch for long moments.
I miss Mom dreadfully. And I’m not yet good at talking about her without choking up. Which made it very difficult to celebrate her this year. Perhaps next year it won’t feel so raw, because I love celebrating Christmas and family.