Tag Archives: holidays

Hard, but not impossible.

Standard

Having now celebrated two Christmases without my mother I am convinced that, contrary to what well-intentioned people have told me, it will never get any easier. 2009 was very difficult because I spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas that year away from home and my family and the traditions that are comfortable for me, but this most recent holiday season I got to spend both of those days with my siblings and it was still hard. Not sobbing-in-bed-for-hours hard… there was no crying or reminiscing aside from a comment at Thanksgiving about the day also being her birthday… the difficulty was less intrusive, but just as painful.

One particularly tough moment came at a craft fair my sister and I were selling at in October. As I was browsing the other booths I discovered something that would have been a perfect gift for my Mom and was hit by the stunning realization that I would never buy her another gift. My mother was a joy to buy for. She and I had similar taste in many things – decor, clothing, hobbies. Perhaps that’s why I now have so much of her stuff in my garage? I felt I knew her so well that when I found The Perfect Gift it was a thrill just to anticipate her opening it, let alone seeing her reaction post-reveal.

Another wrinkle this year was the grand-baby in our house. She looks so much like my mother did as a baby – she has her chin and her smile and her red hair!! – and I know Mom would have loved to have a new baby to buy for. I hope I can measure up to Mom’s stellar Nana talents as I learn to be a Nonnie for my little one.

But being with my brothers at Thanksgiving and my sister for Christmas helped somewhat as we move forward “sans mere”. I’m confident we will make new traditions as we learn to share our own homes with each other instead of relying on mom to always be the hub of our family wheel.

Losing a parent in 2009, and gaining a grandchild in 2010 kind of trumped any list of goals I made those years. I’ll give 2011 some thought and get back to you on that.

Until then – I’ll share my mantra for the new year:

Do or do not… there is no try.   — Yoda

Obligatory Holiday Post

Standard

Obviously, the holiday season is going to be different this year. We won’t spend any time at mom’s house. Mom won’t making the candies she called Martha Washingtons like she did every year (like it or not!). But somehow, I didn’t really think things would be unbearably different. Naively, I didn’t think that this year would be that bad since we will be in Kansas City.

But of course it will be different. The whole thing will be different. My brothers aren’t coming to Arkansas, I’ll be away from home for the week of the 25th, and when I get home, mom still won’t be here. And thanks to the brilliant minds who program the holiday movie schedules, it seems that fact will be driven home on a regular basis this week.

I watched The Family Stone last night. I’d seen previews for it, so when I saw it was on television I settled in on the couch to watch. I was totally invested in the movie about a guy and a girl and the guy’s family who doesn’t like the girl much… and the family dynamics of the siblings during the holidays… when, in the last 15 minutes of the damn thing, the storyline reveals that the mom is dying of cancer. Of course I sat and sobbed as the fiance character, Sarah Jessica Parker, gave the family each a portrait of their mother that she had made from a snapshot that sat on her boyfriend’s desk. Then I sobbed more when, in the final scene, everyone gathered for Christmas the next year and the mother wasn’t there. What kind of happy holiday movie is that, exactly??? It sucked. They could have done the same exact movie, with the same exact lessons taught, without losing the mom.

Then tonight, when I saw that Big Fish was on – a movie I have wanted to see – I thought, oh great! But when, ten minutes in, we visit the main character’s dad as he convalesced at home with cancer, I decided that I wouldn’t put myself through it.The mom explains that the dad isn’t eating well, and is getting weaker due to his lack of appetite, then she gives the son a can of Ensure to see if the son can convince him to drink it. Serious flashback time. And when the son goes into the bedroom to see the dad, the dad wants a drink of water, and the cup has a bendy straw in it. More serious flashback. If the man had brown eyes and had been wearing a knit cap on a bald head, it would have been my mother. It was way too much.

So, hey all you television execs out there (I’m sure you’re all reading my blog…) Let’s find some happy stories to air during the holidays, how about? How about nothing with dead or dying parents. No sick or missing children. No soldiers who won’t come home. Those of us who have had these things happen to us recently REALLY don’t need to see the Hollywood version. I promise.

Holiday kitchen memories

Standard

In my youth, we made Martha Washingtons at Christmastime.  I always loved the part that came after my mom had rolled 8,437 little balls of nougat, walnuts and coconut and stuck them with toothpicks.  My brothers and I would anxiously wait for the double boiler to melt the chocolate to just the right consistancy, then proceed to make a mess all over the counter dipping balls into chocolate, placing them on cookie sheets, and dipping them again once the first coat hardened. 

I was never a fan of candied coconut, so I didn’t actually partake of the Martha Washingtons, but I definitely enjoyed making them.  My brother loved them – still does – and mom ships off a box of them to Philadelphia every year that he doesn’t make it home to partake during the holidays.  It must cost a fortune, because they are as heavy as bricks.  He must be her “favorite”…

At my house we don’t make my mom’s standard, but we do make cookies during the holidays.  The other night I made some delicious oatmeal cookies.  The recipe is on the lid of the Quaker Oats container.  Because I don’t like to do things the way eeryone else does, I used dried cranberries instead of raisins.  The extra $$ spent on craisins is worth it, believe me.  YUM!

Last year, I had my sister over for a cookie making party.  We had recently moved into a new house and the kitchen has a wonderful, large granite-topped island.  It is perfect for making a crapload of cookies!  The kids helped with the cookies, so the icing job was spotty, at best.  But the point of this cookie-making endeavor is not really the perfection of the result, is it?  It’s the taste… and the time spent with family making things for each other. 

I have the rice crispies ready to be made into bars, and the ingredients for chocholate drop peanut butter cookies… now I just need to corral my kids and clean off the island.  Wish me luck.