My mother took delight in the Christmas season. Despite the fact that the time of year was always a trigger to remind her of two significant losses in her life, her younger brother and oldest son, she somehow managed the emotional landmines in anticipation of shared time with grandchildren. Nothing was of more importance to her than family, friends and the reason for the season.
One of Mother’s holiday traditions related to candy making and baking. She always made divinity candy at Christmas. I don’t know if the name of the candy was the primary drawing card that caused her to link the candy to the reason for the season, but she always made it. She also always made a Japanese fruitcake. She made the fruitcake primarily because my dad liked it. Consequently, baking one for him seemed like an investment of her time that would please my dad.
Thinking about the Christmas trees that she and Dad would select and decorate puts a smile on my face. You never knew fully what to expect when you walked through the door and saw their tree, but without fail they always had a tree of some kind. Sometimes they’d opt for a small table-top tree. Other times, they’d go with a larger tree. When my dad helped decorate the tree, it was more of a utilitarian type of effort. Actually, if left exclusively to him, he’d probably have figured out a need for duct tape to secure the tree to the stand. Actually, all joking aside, I think he really did that one year. But without fail, a tree was always in place.
In addition, the Nativity set, including the stable were also part of the décor. Most often the Nativity set was placed in a prominent place under the Christmas tree. At other times it was in close proximity. Always without fail, it was purposefully set out as a reminder of the true reason for the season.
Yesterday afternoon when I got home from work, the General told me to go look at my mom’s hutch. It has been in our home for the past several months. When we disassembled my parent’s house, the hutch went to my daughter’s home. Several months ago, my daughter opted it send it back our direction. The style of furniture no longer worked for her and she knew we’d want to keep the hutch in the family.
I actually had not considered putting the hutch in our home, but its presence serves as a wonderful reminder of gifts too easily forgotten without some prompting. I am glad we have the hutch in our home. When I take note of its presence, it is like ingesting comfort food. It feeds my soul. Yesterday, as I looked at the hutch, it almost took my breath away. The General had located and unpacked the Nativity set that belonged to my parents. She had it displayed on the hutch.
Simply seeing the Nativity set flooded my mind with good memories from long ago. Standing before the hutch and looking at the display was like watching the credits that scroll down the theatre screen at the end of a movie. One by one, fragments from Christmases from long ago came across my radar screen.
On the shelf above that display, Treva had displayed a hand crafted ceramic Nativity set that we were given for Christmas many years ago. Ronnie’s wife had made it and it was given to us for Christmas the first year following their marriage.
Looking at the Nativity set that previously belonged to my parents and looking at the Nativity set given us so many years ago was impactful. So much has changed! Yet, so much remains the same. In reflecting on the experience later, it was like wearing a pair of old jeans that fit comfortably.
Perhaps one of the gifts I’m providing myself this Christmas is the freedom to peel the layers off the onion by making myself more vulnerable. A friend read my posting yesterday and privately wrote: “Wow, that was a vulnerable post! I stand impressed”. He later called my attention to the fact he’d not seen that level of vulnerability on my part ever before.
Under the auspices of real connection, do we have to provide ourselves brownie points to be open and honest? Perhaps a better question is, “If we’re not open and honest, can we really be connected through relationship?
Yesterday morning, as I made my way to work, I listened to a radio talk show. One of the callers needed assistance in knowing what to do regarding her boyfriend. They’d been dating for about four months and she was really falling for the guy. She liked everything about him. She liked the way he treated her. She liked his personality. She liked his life style. The list went on and on. Recently he took her to a nice restaurant for dinner. When he attempted to pay for dinner, his credit card was rejected. He tried a second card, with the same result. She ended up, footing the bill.
That was the catalyst for the boyfriend’s disclosure that the downtown high-rise where he lives doesn’t belong to him. A friend is letting him stay there because he is out of work and down on his luck. The BMW he’s been driving isn’t his either. It belongs to his friend. So the question is this, if he’s not the person she previously thought he was, can she really trust him since he mislead her for four months? It’s a good question. At any rate, it is food for thought!
All My Best!