A little Christmas cheer

I’m sitting here at my computer desk at 5:00 am because my nerves have woken me up again and it feels impossible to lie in bed. Although my goal is to post three days a week, it’s been nearly a week since my last post. My email inbox has 147 messages in it — I like to keep it under 50. Many of the messages are unread links to my blogging friends’ posts. I am so far behind in reading the blogs I follow, the news from the online friends I’ve cultivated nearly two years now, that I know I will never be able to catch up and will have to resort to jumping ahead to try to get back in the sync of things.

I don’t like to complain about how busy I am, or how far behind I get. We’re all busy. But for those of you who notice I’ve not been around, I just wanted to tell you I hope to be back to reading and commenting soon.

I spent most of the day at my parents’ yesterday. Holidays are so hard for people who are suffering in some way. I woke up thinking that I needed to hang the strand of blinking red bell lights along Mom’s living room mantle. My sister Annie loved watching the red blinking lights, and because of that my mother loved them too. Or because Mom loved them, Annie did. We never were quite sure which way that actually went. We hung the bells up the first two Christmases after Annie was gone, but I think it was too much trouble for Mom to do last year.

Armed with blank Christmas cards and a package of peppermints, I left for my parents house mid-morning. Life has been so hard for Mom over the past months, years really, that she is worn out and doesn’t want to do one thing extra. I suspected if I asked her if she wanted me to get out her Christmas decorations she would say “No.” So I didn’t ask. I went for the bells.

I went down the hall and into Annie’s room where Mom keeps the Christmas decorations in the large closet.

While I was looking for the bells, I found a wreath. I took it out and hung it on the front door.

“I usually put the wreath my sister gave me on the front door,” Mom said from her chair near the far corner of the living room where she sat and ate her toast and drank her tea. “It’s on the glass porch.” I moved the wreath I’d hung to the back door and went out on the porch for the wreath my aunt had made.

I decided we needed Christmas music so I sorted through their collection of vinyl albums for the Christmas ones and selected one I remembered from my youth, the album cover completely torn through on one side.

“I don’t want to get the tree out today,” Mom said as I worked.

In one box I found a Santa and Mrs. Claus that a good friend of hers had made years ago. I set them together on top of the china cabinet.

Back and forth to Annie’s room I went bringing out decorations one or two at a time.

I put the snowman and woman on the window sill beside the card table, Dad’s “office,” where he sits and “works” or plays ball with a family member or a home health aide.

I found a centerpiece for Mom’s coffee table, four miniature nutcrackers for the kitchen window sill, and a snow globe that I think Dad might enjoy.

At the bottom of a big box, in a bag, I found the red bells that Annie loved.

I hung them along the mantle, securing them with tape. Then I cleared the nick nacks off the mantle and set out the manger scene that used to be my grandmother’s.

Christmas carols playing in the background, I stood still for a minute and looked around the room. Mom used to put a small tree on a table in front of the picture window in the living room, but Dad sits there now and the table is full of pencils, blocks of wood, books, cups of coins, and other things we use to try to entertain or occupy him.

“You know, you could put the little tree on that table beside you, Mom,” I said. “It wouldn’t have to be in front of the window.”

“I could put it on that table,” Mom said and pointed across the room to the end table beside the lift recliner that we got for Dad, but that he rarely sits in anymore. It is simply too hard to get him in it, and he slides out of position if he sits there too long.

I shifted the recliner away from the sofa and moved the small table between the two so that it would be closer to the electrical outlet. Then I got the little white tree from a box on the shelf in Annie’s closet, and I set it up on the table.

“I don’t want to do the ornaments today,” Mom said.

I went back into Annie’s old bedroom and found a crocheted tree skirt.

“My sister made that for me, too” Mom said.

I arranged the skirt around the bottom and plugged the tree in. It’s tiny colored lights added a warm glow to the room.

Annie’s blinking bells strung along the mantle lent a cheerful twinkle to the room.

I left the ornaments in the three small boxes on the bed in Annie’s room.

Mom can decorate the tree later.

17 thoughts on “A little Christmas cheer”

  1. My heart is going out to you Christine. It’s a very difficult time of year for people who are suffering, you’re so right. I hope this holiday season can be one of love and peace and family for you without too much difficulty. Sending hugs your way, friend.

  2. Hi Christine .. I can feel the strain you’re going through – but you seem to be doing things the right way … your mother participating, yet not having to use effort. It sounds peaceful. Your parents are benefiting so much from your input … you are doing your best at what is a most difficult time … Annie’s death … and those memories …. your father’s illness. I think it’s lovely that your mother remembers the items her sister made for her …

    Christine you are doing an amazing job for your parents and particularly in memory of Annie – the burdens of the heart … my thoughts go out to you …. Hilary

    1. It was peaceful, actually. I’m not sure the blog post made that completely evident. Yes. The burdens of the heart.

      I hope you are still doing well with the loss of your mother, Hilary, and that you will find some joy in the holidays.

  3. Yep, I missed you. Hope your Thanksgiving was great. I had those same red bells growing up. Mom put them in the front picture window. She would always fuss at them if one wouldn’t blink.

    1. That’s so nice, to be missed. That’s funny about the bells. Actually, only one of them is blinking right now. I need to find another blinking bulb or two. Having all of them blinking at the same time can be a little much.

  4. What a poignant post. I know this is an exhausting time. Just be. Don’t worry about the email or reading blogs. We love you whether you have time to read or not–at least, I do. Hang in there, my friend–big hugs to you.

  5. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for telling your story. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of what’s really important. I’ll keep you and your parents in my prayers.

    1. Thank you, Norma. We’re at a point of transitioning some of Dad’s care to his hospital bed. It is a difficult time right now. Hopefully once we get everything worked out, it will be easier on my mother (and me).

  6. What joy it must have brought to your parents, especially your mom, to have the house decorated with so many things rich in memories. Thank you for lighting that little corner of her heart.
    I also got way behind with the holidays, but there are some blogs, like yours, that I can’t pass over and delete. Joy to the world!

  7. To make you feel slightly better my inbox has 400 plus and rising… and I emptied it two weeks ago… and yes mostly of new posts of blog friends…

    Christine we all know you have much to think about upon your sleepless nights so please take care of you and family they come first .. Sending you all some Healing thoughts… Sue xox


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