Until 8 years ago, I lived 30 minutes (or less) from my mom. We spent every Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas together. And then I moved to Mammoth and mom moved to San Antonio. The first year, she flew out to spend it with me, and the next couple of years she made time to come visit me for a few weeks every holiday season.
And now she really can't. The recession has hit my parents almost as hard as it has hit us. As money got tighter, the visits were fewer and further between. Now they have a large piece of land that needs a lot of work. Gardens, chickens and a rather large dog take time every single day.
I have been able to visit a couple times this last year, but I'm afraid I won't be able to get back up there for a while. We have a lot of financial catching up to do when H eventually gets a job. And the melancholy usually sets in about September when the days get shorter, mostly because I miss her so much.
My mother brought me up to love the holidays. We didn't have much money, but she spent time creating decorations out of string and tin foil (no joke) and we always saved our money to splurge for a tree. She sewed some ornaments and we scoured yard sales for old glass ornaments. She taught me that Christmas was a time for giving, and I remember spending my own money (I had a job, I'll tell you about it sometime) to buy gifts for my friends and family. Gifts that I picked out and bought myself. I was thrilled to be able to do this. I played piano and we sang Christmas carols while my mom made cookies. I can remember scouring the TV guide that came in the newspaper for the Christmas movies we would watch every time they were on (no VCR's back when this old hag was a kid). My mom would take me to Macy's where they had the Santa Claus with the real beard, and I would always ask Santa to bring something for my mom as well.
I still love the holidays. LOVE them. My mom is responsible for this love. I love Christmas decorations and Holiday music, which might be a little odd considering what a heathen I am. I even love the religious songs! To me, the songs aren't as much about Christianity as they are about being a good person. Peace on earth, good will towards men. The holidays are also so bittersweet for me. Most Christmas songs will make me cry if I let them. Maybe because I don't feel like the rest of the world is on the same page. I look around and I see greed and selfishness, rudeness and violence. I know I'm not the only one that notices, and if there is anything Frank Capra taught me, it was going on a long time ago. One of my favorite movies allows me to wallow in the hopelessness of it all, and then brings me back to hope:
And when I am feeling hopeless about my own life, I watch:
I get good cries out of them both, and still end up feeling inspired. I have my mother to thank for exposing me to all of these things. For bringing me up to have compassion for others and to believe in the spirit of the season. Santa Claus is not a man or a fable - Santa Claus is alive in each of us, in our charity and our generosity. I never saw Santa as a lie, but more a means to teach me how important it is to give to others. While my mother certainly encouraged me to believe in Santa, I never did have that moment where I realized he wasn't real, because he was still real. I'm not really sure how mom pulled that off, but I hope I can do the same for my children.
Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart, you won't find it under a tree." ~ Charlotte Carpenter