A Time to Remember

October 16, 2010
Christmas was my mother’s absolute favorite holiday of the year. Each year she and I would transform my home into a literal Christmas wonderland. We would begin preparation the first of November; making several trips to the storage unit, filling our car with as many boxes as we could squeeze into it and then hauling it back home and sorting through every box. First, we put up the trees. Now I know that doesn’t seem like a lot of work, go get a tree, put it up, throw some decorations on it and bam, A Christmas tree. Well, one Christmas tree was not good enough for my mom- Oh no! We had a total of 27 Christmas trees, one for each room, and no, they couldn’t just have some simple little popcorn strands of tinsel and a few balls hanging from it. Nope, each tree had to be donned with ribbons and ornaments in such a way that you have thought robbed all of the display trees from Dillard’s. By Christmas, our house looked like something out of a story book. You walked in the front door, and there was a beautiful 12 ft. Christmas tree, with an elaborate display of ribbons and angles and enormous stars hanging from the ceiling surrounded by a giant nativity sitting on gold fabric. We had softly lit garland strung all the way up our stair way. You could hear soft Christmas music playing throughout the house, and the hint aroma of freshly baked cookies lingering through the halls. It was definitely truly amazing.

But something this astounding did not just appear with the snap of your fingers. It took hours of hard labor! I would get so frustrated helping my mom put up everything, because no matter what, to her it could always be better. And better meant more work for me. She would wake me up at the break of dawn because that night she had had a “vision” and we would have to run all the way to mall, get whatever it is she “imagined” for that night and then spend the whole day assembling it together to be just perfect. And even when we were done setting up our beautiful home, I would still not be done working. Now I know you’re wondering to yourself, what else could there be to do? Well, with this extravagant home we just had to show it off to people! My mom would hold the best Christmas parties for our family and her clients. Big parties meant a lot of food. And a lot of food meant more child labor! I was cursed with having this insane skill to be able to cook just about anything, and my mom knew it. While she was out entertaining her guests, I was in the kitchen, putting the final touches on all of the meals. Making sure everything was up to my mom’s standard- perfect.

Now a lot more good came from having a Christmas OCD mother than just an astounding home. There were also the presents. My mom would begin shopping for Christmas presents as early as February. If she saw something she thought I would like, she would get it, and hide it away all year till that long awaited Christmas morning. There would be a flood of presents for both me and my dad. My mom’s pile was smaller than ours, but we did put a lot of thought into what we did get her, and she was always pleased. I could have never imagined Christmas in any other way, until the unexpected happened.

Three years ago, my mother passed away in early August. I must have gone into shock, because until Christmas time, I had never really felt so empty. We had taken down the decorations and the trees; I never thought they would not be put back up. The smell of freshly baked cookies was no longer there, and neither was the jolly Christmas music I so long yearned for. My dad and I did not make our annual trips to the storage unit, and we simply went to Wal-Mart and bought one dim, pre lit tree. Although I know my dad does the best he can, there was no flood of presents waiting for me under the tree that morning, just a few. A few for me and a few I had gotten for him. We tried once going to my aunt’s house for Christmas. It was nice, but my dad told me that he had felt horrible seeing my cousins open present after present, and I only received a couple. I told him I didn’t mind and that felt the same for him. I guess I never thought how gloomy life without my mom and the joy of Christmas. But hey, not everything’s all that bad. My dad and I have one new tradition. Every Christmas we go out to my mom’s grave and put a small, pre lit tree that sits inside of a big red boot, on top of her grave, and we sit there together, all three of us. And we talk of better times, and what the future will bring.

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