Christmas Traditions

As with Thanksgiving, Christmas was a very special time in our household. My mother had a very strong sense of tradition, and even though I was an adult, my mother still looked forward to creating all of our special Christmas goodies.

On Christmas Eve, we had our customary appetizers: shrimp, ham, Italian beef appetizers, cookies, and whatever else my mom thought might be festive.

One of my mom’s special talents was giftwrapping. When I was little, presents were wrapped with military-precision, festooned with ribbon, and stacked knee-deep underneath the tree.

(Sadly, I do not share my mom’s talent, and it has been noted within the family that I wrap much like my grandmother who valued substance over style.)

In 2007, my Beloved and I were about to exchange our first Christmas presents. I was spending Christmas with my mom and the subject of the gifts came up.

Mom: What did you get Jon for Christmas?

Me: An iPOD!!!!! (I was so excited.)

Mom: Have you wrapped it yet?

Me (in a small voice): No.

Mom: Does Jon know about present-wrapping tendencies and how you wrap like your grandmother?

Me: No. Not yet.

Mom: Would you like me to wrap it for you?

Me: Yes, please. BUT you have to promise that you won’t tell him that you wrapped it.

My mom wrapped Jon’s present counseling me on the importance of hospital corners and curling ribbon. I was 33-years old.

(In the matter of full disclosure, I have also passed off desserts my mom made–with her permission, of course.)

(In the continued matter of full disclosure, I also hoard airplane pretzels, peanuts, and complimentary mints at restaurants. I carry a big purse–just like my grandmother.)


One of the things I love best is being able to create traditions of my own:

  • My Beloved and I go to a Christmas Tree farm.
  • We pick out a tree when I can longer feel my feet.
  • My Beloved wraps the lights around the tree, and I decorate it using the decorations from my childhood while watching my favorite Christmas movies: Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Bad Santa, and Die Hard.
  • I wrap Christmas gifts for the kiddos.

Then I call my mom:

Me: Hi. It’s Me.

Mom: Hi Me. Whatcha’ doing?

Me: Decorating the tree.

Mom: Did you hang the Sucrets box you made when you were ten?

Me: Yep.

Mom: Did you hang the red bows I made when you were six?

Me: Yep.

Mom: Did you remember to hang the ornaments along the back of the tree and the bottom, so the tree looks even?

Me: Yep.

Mom: I’m going to see you Christmas Eve! I can’t wait!!

Me: Oh, I know!

Christmas 2010

If I’d known that Christmas 2010 was the last time I would see my mom as herself, maybe I would have paid more attention. Been more mindful. Committed every small detail to memory. But I did not know, and neither did she, so we had our typical mom/daughter time, which was always fantastic.

We talked and rehashed old times and memories. (Mom and I are big rehashers.) We talked of big things and small:

Mom: Do you think my hair is too long?

Me: Yes.

We had Christmas dinner with Jon’s parents, and I hugged her extra hard good-bye, and she smelled like Mom: cigarettes, Giorgio, and that indefinable Mom smell that made her Mom.

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 was the first Christmas without my mom. For the most part, I managed to make it through the holiday somewhat intact. (Except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day where I cried and cried and cried–I did not know that a person the size of a hobbit could produce so much snot. Gross, but true.) We put up the tree. I watched my movies and hung my ornaments.

I also developed this weird little ritual with cards. My mom was a huge proponent of homemade cards. I received a card on every major holiday, a card just because she was thinking about me, or a card because it was Wednesday. Naturally, as the holiday began to roll around, I began to think about my Mom’s Christmas card.

Logically, I knew that my mother was dead. But maybe there was some kind out of magic out there, and a card from her  would magically appear. I made crazy deals with the cosmos: “If two out of the three radio stations I listen to play songs I like, there will be a card there when I get home.”

And, of course, there wasn’t.

Christmas 2012

This is going to be the second Christmas without my mom.  And that still sucks.

But you know what? This has been a GREAT year full of amazing people and trips and places and dogs.

And I think magic and miracles still happen.

Back in October, Bu and I took a trip home to Dallas where we spent a lovely afternoon knocking about town with her Aunt Susan. Aunt Susan is a true Texas lady–she possesses a dry wit–and is lovely both inside and out. We had a FABULOUS time.  Aunt Susan and I have bonded over the years with our love of books and the printed word, so imagine my surprise yesterday, when I arrive home, and there is a package for me in the mail!

(I love the mail. I’m always hoping for something good.)

I didn’t recognize the return address, but when I opened the package and saw who it was from…it was like the magic had been there.

(I cried a little because I cry about happy things.)

The other wonderful thing: my Beloved and I went to Atlanta for the weekend where my baby cousin was getting married. It’s hard to believe she’s old enough to be married when I think of her as a little girl. I got to hang out with my favorite aunts and uncle and my other baby cousin–and what I love best is the relationship both of my aunts have with their daughters: they are so close and love each other so much.

I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season. To those of you–if this is the first Christmas without your mom (or parent), a special hug to you.




One thought on “Christmas Traditions

  1. Pingback: Christmas Traditions « Brandymichelle1974′s Weblog

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