Thursday, December 22, 2016

lost, then found

Over the years, I have purged my Christmas decorations several times. Usually at the end of the season, I decide I'm done with something and out it goes. Years later, I look at a photograph and wonder what happened to this or that. Sometimes I go hunting and I find it.

Eight years ago, we had a small fire in the living room involving a pregnant daughter-in-law, a votive candle, and tissue paper. It was scary, so for years, I didn't use votive candles. Seemed like a wise thing to do with small children in the house anyway.

Yesterday I decided that the votive candles can come back into the decor. I rounded them up and have a plan to buy some scented candles today. Along the way, I discovered other things that had been stashed away for some reason or other.

Some things I never find.

My other thought is this. For the first 30 some years of my life, my mom kept Christmas for my family. Even after my brothers and I were married and started having families of our own, we traveled to the farm for Christmas. There were so many sweet traditions: cutting a tree in the woods, Belgian cookies, standing over the floor furnace in the morning, Christmas stockings, Grandma Elsie's gingerbread cookies, popcorn balls.

Over the years, as our families grew, we started keeping Christmas in our own homes. I've done that for thirty some years now, making some new traditions, keeping some of the old. Making lefse on a Saturday in November, baking gingerbread cookies and decorating them around the dining room table, Dad's favorite meatball recipe, Aunt Vi's Norwegian flatbread.

A part of me still wants the Christmas of dreams. Everyone in one place, everyone clean and starched and wearing matching pinafores, everyone happy, everything made from scratch, homemade place cards for the table. Most of me knows that isn't possible or likely. As my friend Joanne and I have talked about so much in the past two weeks, life happens and all of a sudden, you have to be satisfied with less than the dream holiday. What matters most are the important parts, and sometimes the important parts aren't the same from year to year.

I'm pretty sure I never properly thanked my mother enough for the way she kept our family Christmas. When you're a kid, and even a young adult, it seems easy. Shopping for all those kids, wrapping and hiding presents, decorating the house, and still doing all the normal things. I know I didn't appreciate it enough. Today I know how much work it is. Thank you, Mom. I appreciate it more than you can ever know.

Today, I'll make a fruitcake with Ella. I'll buy scented candles and I'll get out the Christmas dishes. We'll watch The Nutcracker tonight and maybe if we aren't too tired, the Jim Carrey version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Tomorrow, we'll make the favorite meatball recipe and we'll start organizing for the family gathering on Saturday.

We won't be in matching pinafores but we'll have good food and we'll laugh. Maybe we'll play Yahtzee and go for walks. We'll keep a good Christmas. And I can thank my mom for teaching me how to do that.

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