On this cold, windy Tuesday evening, we’re snuggled together around the Christmas tree and evening news. The Babe and I both went separate directions today. He had some VFW business to tend to, I needed to take my mom to Hobby Lobby and a couple other places for her last gift cards. She was eager to get out. When you’re 90 and don’t drive, I can understand that.
But to Hobby Lobby?? For Christmas decorations?? This woman begins decorating in October. No kidding. One year she had sixteen trees in her two story, eight room home. At least three five foot or taller trees on the first floor, and one in each of the four bedrooms upstairs. Nothing in the bathrooms, thank goodness. Every year she swears she’s downsizing the decorations. She works very long to string the lights and it’s hard on grey days with her vision problems. She claims she’s half blind, I believe the correct phrase is low vision from a stroke three years ago. She is quite fortunate she did not have any others yet. Its a good thing she voluntarily gave up driving, as it was making her too anxious. I’m glad she gave it up.
As soon as the decorations hit the shelves, she’s wanting to look. Over the past few years, we have scoured the aisles of Shopko (now closed), Hobby Lobby (several trips there every season), Menards (they have always had great decorations), and wherever else she can think. She’s never been to WalMart or Target, so we’re safe from them so far. She started collecting Moose about ten years ago. Her sisters went in together and got her a lighted moose for the yard for her Christmas gift that year.
Mom’s sister Judy called me about it, and the Babe and I happened to be in Menard’s on a Sunday shopping. They had the moose, so I picked it up for them. I was commissioned to take it to her house and assemble it in her living room while she was gone. (She still drove then and was usually gone on Monday). I stole into the house, and it appeared the house was deserted. I set to work.
As I opened the box and connected things to set him up, I heard her voice say, “What do you think you’re doing”? She was upstairs yelling downstairs. I said “Nothing”. She was yelling at the cat, not me. Good old Catholic guilt still has it’s grip on me. She stayed home that Monday because she was tired. She loved the Moose.
Mom’s sisters all loved Christmas decorating. They all did their homes up beautifully. They got together when they all lived in Omaha. Gatherings slowed when one moved to Arkansas thirty years ago. Their mother had passed, one moved away, leaving the three. They gathered when they could, taking turns at each other’s homes. This past October, Mom’s last sister died of cancer, so she is the lone survivor of their family. She is the oldest. Still decorating for all the sisters and their mother.
I’m glad they all loved decorating for Christmas. It means that despite losing their father to a sudden heart attack on Christmas Eve in 1964, they did not adopt the Bah Humbug attitude towards one of the most beautiful seasons there is. The one where we all receive the gift of eternal life through the birth of Jesus. They all carried on for their children and husbands, and their Mother. She lived until 1988, and saw many happy Christmases after losing her husband.
I introduced Mom to Jim Shore a number of years ago. And she had quite a collection of his Santa Clauses. Each is unique, from a different country, and in Jim Shore’s unique workmanship. His figures are dressed in clothing that has quilt blocks in them. Here is a sample of her display.
I am planning on releasing several books next year. One will be the story of losing Grandpa on Christmas Eve when I was twelve years old. I have a friend who experienced the same thing at the same age, and he is my co-author. It will tell a story of dealing with something terrible, and making good come from it. I know you will like it.
Thank you for reading today. Keep decorating and be kind to people you encounter. They may be experiencing some really difficult times. I will be back tomorrow, and I hope you are, too.