Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh Christmas

Christmas Eve was a busy day.  This year, Viv and I learned, in a very hands-on way, how hard Momma worked to make Christmas each year for us.  I know she was there with us this year, helping to make our Christmas wonderful too.

She'd spend hours and hours for weeks before Christmas baking and prepping and decorating and shopping.  We'd easily have 10 different kinds of cookies, several flavors of biscotti, various other homemade cakes and candies, and all manner of candy from the store (yes, it was very easy to gain weight over the holidays at Momma's house) :)  It was glorious!

Every time she'd go out shopping (all through the year, probably), she'd be thinking about Christmas. She'd pick out "something here" "something there" and little tiskets and taskets for our Christmas piles and baskets.  For several years, I helped her wrap presents on Christmas Eve.  She would make the Kringle, and I would wrap--and wrap and wrap, curling ribbon, labeling gift tags, sticking bows on--for hours. The present pile would grow in heaps around me--on the floor, on chairs, on the table--and on my parents bed seemed to remain an un-shrinking pile of more presents to wrap.  Of course, I never wrapped any of my own presents. Viv did that :)

Momma would always oversee the decorating (which, in many ways, was an ongoing process throughout December), telling us where to put each nativity set, and reminding us where certain decorations always went (the twangy Jingle Bell music box always hung between the kitchen and the living room; the Santa music box on the wall next to the mirror).

Dinner on Christmas Eve was either all-you-can-eat fried shrimp or (in the "good ol' days") hamburgers while driving around the neighborhood viewing Christmas lights.  I remember talking to Momma when I was older, noting that so many families had big Christmas Eve dinners, rivaling Thanksgiving Feasts.  She told me she was always too tired to make a "big fancy dinner" on Christmas eve. Last year our Byzantine Holy Supper was definitely a collaborative effort.  It was great, but it was a lot of work!

And then at night, after dinner, even when we were old enough to help her with presents and last minute details, she'd send us to bed long before she went herself. She would stay up, cleaning the kitchen, or wrapping the few gifts she had to find herself in her closet, or putting the finishing touches on the last of the cookies she was baking for us to eat the next day.

So naturally, this Christmas Eve, Viv and I had our hands full. We had done some shopping the day before, for stocking-stuffers.  I couldn't find ornaments I liked (Momma got us each an ornament every year), so I painted some ceramic trinkets from the "leftovers" in the ceramic cupboard.  I sealed them on Christmas Eve, ready to be hung on the stockings. I was even doing some sewing that morning, finishing a gift for Taylor... Momma was looking over my shoulder, I'm sure.

Christmas Eve Mass with Bethany + kids in the evening.

It was so cute to see Michael and Rachel dressed up as a Ram and a Ewe (respectively)--cotton ball t-shirts, of course!  Then Daddy, Viv, T and I came home or Christmas dinner.  I had initially thought (ambitiously) that we could do another Holy Supper.  But (surprise?) when we got home, I was too tired!  I asked everyone if they minded just a shrimp dinner :) and they said it was alright. So that's what we did.  I think we even watched a movie while eating.  Momma was probably chuckling at us :)

I had Viv wrap the stocking presents for Taylor, Daddy, and me.  I had T wrap Viv's stocking presents.  I made the Kringle. Viv cleaned up the kitchen and baked Crispy Chocolate Chip cookies for Daddy.  Daddy looked through the closet for more presents we could wrap.. presents Momma had bought earlier in the year, intending them for various people at Christmas.  Even there, she was with us.

I think Taylor went to bed first (he was still recovering from law school finals!), and Daddy went to bed next, once he was convinced there were no more presents in the closet, and once he had sampled the cookies Viv and I were working on :)

I sent Viv to bed around 2, after we had stuffed the stockings together and the kitchen was mostly clean. I stuffed Taylor's and Vivian's stocking. She stuffed Daddy's and mine.  I had to stay up for just a bit longer for the Kringle.

The house was quiet.

Christmas was ready.

I thought of Momma, laying out all our Santa presents in our respective piles (sometimes we would even pick out which chair we wanted our presents left on, informing her of our choices) :)

I thought of Momma, gingerly placing the baked Kringle on pretty platters on the pretty table, draped with a clean Christmas tablecloth, with the Winter Tea set ready for Christmas morning breakfast.  I thought of her going from room to room, checking on her sleeping children and children-in-law, blessing us as she went.

As I turned out the lights in the kitchen and walked through the softly glowing dining room, past the luminous (if Tiny) Christmas Tree, I whispered my prayers of Thanks for a wonderful evening spent in a House filled with Love.

As I climbed in to bed and snuggled up to my husband, I thought of Momma and Daddy, and how nothing in my life would be as Good as it is if it weren't for the deep Love they shared with each other and the Love and Grace they accepted from Christ throughout the years of their marriage, and even now.  And I'm sure I fell asleep with Momma all around me, around her family, and her desert house, as she whispered her own prayers and blessings for us early on Christmas morning.


  1. beautiful post anne, it brought tears to my eyes. It sounds like you beautifully recreated a christmas your momma would have been proud of. I especially loved how she had bought presents earlier in the year that you could all enjoy and that you incorporated her even more with the leftover ceramic ornaments!!

  2. Wow. Bona-fide wonder-woman. And now you are amongst her numbers.