December always brings such a whirlwind of emotions to me. There are Christmas holidays to look forward to, although this year with covid restrictions in place, it may be a little difficult to do much celebrating. Then there is the dwelling that I do, wishing my mom was still here and wishing she hadn’t already missed out on twelve Christmases with us. It’s so hard to believe that it’s been this many years already. It gets me feeling sad one moment, yet I look back on some fond memories, and I try to turn the frown upside down.
Julie Andrews couldn’t have said it better when she beautifully sang,
“When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.”
I sat down one day a few years ago and compiled this list of things that make me remember the good times with my mom, especially throughout the holiday season. In no particular order, these are my top ten Christmas memories with her.
10. When I used to sing Christmas songs in the house, she said if it was for her benefit, then it wasn’t necessary. Nothing like brutal honesty from your mom, and you know at that point not to quit your day job. I can remember this day like it was yesterday. Strange how sometimes when I get to the Canadian border, and they ask what day I left home and I stare blank-faced like I haven’t the slightest idea even though it was maybe only four or five days ago. I had already forgotten what day I left home, but I can remember standing in the kitchen with my mom, twelve plus years ago, singing along to a CD to What Child Is This.
9. She made us waffles every Christmas morning. For many years it was the frozen Eggo ones, which I absolutely love but then for a few years, she got fancy with a waffle maker and made them from scratch with a syrupy peach topping for them.
8. She got me a new dress every year for the Christmas concerts at school. My mom loved to shop, not necessarily for herself, but definitely for others. Up until a few years ago, and maybe still to this day in the closet, is a dress I had from a grade six Christmas concert. Of course, with every new dress came the yearly Christmas concert photo too.
7. She would make Cheese Whiz and pickle pinwheel sandwiches for Christmas parties at school. This was obviously before allergies and food sensitivities. They were such a hit every year. My mom would specifically buy a certain bread, cut all the crust off then go to town rolling up all these little sandwiches. Into the later years of school, she even got fancy with them and made her own bread, adding red or green food colouring to add to the festivities.
6. She was so festive with her Christmas decorations. Every year my mom decorated the house with the same decorations. Things were strung from the ceiling, and they were sitting atop tables, they were on the walls etc. Some decorations were as old as the hills but still made it out every year and placed in the same spot every year.
5. She made the best nuts and bolts snack and caramel corn. I remember every year having ice cream pails full of it. These snacks were a definite must to every Christmas tradition.
4. She always got the neck from the turkey and let my dad and I fight over the giblets. I don’t know if this happens in anyone else’s household, but it was such a treat for us. I’m sure lots of people just throw that bag of “goodies” away and don’t even bother cooking them. My mom would place them on a plate in front of my dad and me, and he would cut them up, and we would gobble them down - pun intended!!
3. She just loved to shop and spoil everyone. As I mentioned above, my mom never really bought a lot for herself. She took great joy in finding out what everyone had on their Christmas wishlist, and she did her best to surprise everyone. The second to last Christmas that we had with her, she went above and beyond and bought sentimental items for everyone as she knew that would maybe be the last holiday shopping she would ever do. As I write this now, I think of how heartbreaking that must have been for her to do.
2. Her smiles when she watched us open our presents were the best. You could just see her anticipation grow as she watched us unwrap presents, and you could tell she was so excited to see the surprise we would have and the smiles that would come across our faces. She would always play it off like she couldn’t find this or that on our lists. Meanwhile, she had items and then coyly smiled at us when we opened what she said she was never going to get.
To wrap up this list and these memories is the ultimate number 1 best memory of my mom, and that is just her being here with us!
So if anyone is ever feeling the same way I am, just sit back and make a list, and you will see that there is still so much to be grateful for, and they are called memories.