Mom’s notes are like hugs she left behind…
A NOTE FROM GRACE (My Mom)
When my children were growing up and got into their “teenage problem” years, I’d become exasperated with them. I’d think, “They’re just like their father!”
Then, one day the light dawned on me, (Marblehead) because after taking a hard, honest look at myself, I realized; they were just like me. The me I had suppressed and hidden deep inside, where no one else could see. I was as wild and rebellious as they, but I had put up a shield of adult perfection, striving to become the perfect mother that everyone expected me to be.
I have now learned that I need to let this child in me come out to play, or the adult becomes a cold hard shell. I must confess, now that I’m older, I have to do this through my books, and old TV movies.
My mind wants to run through fields of flowers with all my clothes flung aside, but my body slows me down to a stroll through Wal-Mart, wrapped in warm sweaters.
By Grace Christine Doucette (My mom)
I can wear a red hat with a green blouse and yellow pants. People just shake their heads and think, “Well, she’s old.”
Strong young men accost me just to put my groceries in my car. As I adjust my wig, they walk away with a smile, thinking, “Well, she’s old.”
I can smile and wink at every handsome man I see, young or old, and receive a smile or wink in return. It’s safe to flirt now, “I’m old.”
People let me cut in at the grocery store checkout line, and they smile when I have to ask, “What’s the date?” “Oh well, she’s old.”
I can add ten years to my age and smile when people say, “You look so good for your age!”
I can ask for directions, and people lead me right to the place. They don’t want me to get lost, cause “I’m old.”
When I go to the laundry mat, I can mix my colors and my whites in one load. I don’t even flinch when an organized woman sorts her laundry and shakes her head at me, thinking, “She’s old.”
The secret no one knows, is that I present this old face to the world, while inside a young woman laughs at my private joke.
“Who’s old? Not me!”
I love to send scribbles to WWTTM and see them emerge legible and in sharp clean print. I can expose my innermost thoughts to you all and you can laugh at me or with me. I’ve found new friends, though you’re far away and I can’t see your faces, you are all near and dear to me.
I’m not sad about getting older, I did it one day at a time. I’m a product of all my yesterdays, the good and the bad. Today I like who I am, and when I look in the mirror I can honestly say, “Well done kiddo, you did the best you could with what you had!”
My dad was an alcoholic and Christmas was his favorite time of the year to tear up the house, a futile attempt to destroy my mother’s Christmas spirit.
He never succeeded with her, but he made me dread Christmas.
When I was a young mother, I didn’t really celebrate Christmas, not until the kids were toddlers and even then, I just went through the motions for them.
When I was twenty-seven, I got remarried to a man who made a big deal of Christmas.
Until our first Christmas together, I had never put up more than a 2′ ceramic tree, and only because my mom had special ordered it for me.
Our first year together, we put up a 6′ tree with all the trimmings and we surrounded it with presents.
The kids were so excited on Christmas morning and it was contagious.
From that point on, I grew to love Christmas and all that it meant to the kids.
My mom was so proud of me for overcoming my childhood Christmas phobias and soon, I had enough homemade decorations from my mother to cover an entire tree.
I used to love to send her pictures of the tree decorated with her ornaments.
I put up big trees until my youngest moved out, and then I still put up trees, just not as large.
As my kids had kids of their own, I split Mom’s decorations between them and I bought new decorations for me.
Every year, I would do a different theme, bouncing between girly and guy.
All miniature dolls and fairies one year and all Harley-Davidson decorations another year. Pink trees, white trees, purple trees, gold and green. Even a Palm tree one year.
Then, my mom, Grace, died in 2009.
I had a hard time again, but my sister, Cherie, talked me into putting up a tree just for my mom and she sent me butterflies and fairies to decorate it.
That was my first Christmas for Grace.
The next year, it. became a tradition, one tree for Mom, one for me.
Three years ago, my husband and I split up and although I put up a small tree for Mom, I didn’t really celebrate Christmas.
We got back together after seven months and we had two more nice Christmases together, but we separated again this fall, and now here I am, my second Christmas without him in thirty-eight years.
I really didn’t know how I was going to get through it.
I decided the first thing I needed to do was to buy a Christmas tree in a color I had never had before.
I resisted the urge to buy blue for a Blue Christmas, and before I could change my mind, I ordered a turquoise colored Christmas tree. That was in October.
It sat in the box for about a month, while I thought about it.
What would I put on it?
That’s when my sweet friend, Michelle Marie, came to the rescue. She called and offered me enough decorations to do my whole tree. When she brought them to me on Thanksgiving weekend, I was thrilled. They were so beautiful and unlike anything I had ever used before.
My kids came with their kids for Thanksgiving weekend and I asked the three youngest ones to decorate the tree.
Four-year old Mile Mae, got on her daddy’s shoulders to put the star on, and while the entire tree leans, including the star, it’s perfectly imperfect. It’s rather Grinch like, and that was my mom’s favorite movie.
After they were all gone, I brought out some of my little fairies, my mom’s butterflies and a few special ornaments. I added them to the tree. The tree lights are pink and at night, it changes the tree’s color and the walls around it glow.
So, although it is a sad Christmas for me in many ways, I have kept my Christmas spirit going, partly in honor of my mother who refused to let an insane alcoholic destroy her Christmas spirit and partly in honor of myself, because I deserve a happy and blessed Christmas, and yes, I am blessed.
I have fifteen grandkids and five great-grandchildren, a beautiful, warm home, food and everything I need.
I firmly believe Jesus is the reason for the season, but when your grandkids are small, it’s also about glitz and glitter and shiny presents and stockings filled to the brim, hugs and love, Oreo’s and milk, all waiting for them at Grammy’s house.
So this tree is for them, and for my mom, the woman who taught me that your Christmas will become whatever you choose to make it, and for my sister, who wouldn’t let me quit Christmas after my mom died.
Special thanks to Michelle Marie for the perfectly timed decorations and thank you Jesus, for another Christmas and another chance to make memories with my family and friends.
My old table and chairs have been freshly painted and they’re adorable, but that’s not all there is to it.
They have traveled a long, rough road to land pretty on my front porch.
I’ll start with when I first remember seeing them in my mom’s living room. They were brand-new white.
I was thirtysomething with three young kids and my sister, seven years younger, had four younger kids.
My mom had a small basement apartment underneath my aunt’s house, but she had one closet full of blankets and pillows that we would use when we slept over. We would just spread them all over the tiny living room and it would be wall-to-wall kids.
Mom never cared how small her place was, she always had room for all of us.
We would cook huge Sunday dinners in her little kitchen, and then we would all stand there together doing the dishes.
In the evening, after the kids would settle down, my sister would put a table-cloth on the little table and a candle. She would say we were in a French bistro.
Then she would ask me to read some of my poems, which I always just happened to have with me.
For an hour so, we would all be transported to a little café in France and I was the entertainer.
My mom was my first reader and fan, but they were all my very first audience and their love for my writing carried me on waves of encouragement.
I didn’t find out until many years later that my sister also wrote poetry, and I was stunned when I read it because it was so much better than mine. She always gave me the spotlight.
My mom passed away in 2009, and I don’t know when my older sister acquired the table, but she graciously gave it to me when I asked her for it last spring. She also gave me the round cushions.
The little set traveled eighteen hundred miles with me to my new home.
My husband spent days painting it and repairing the metal binding around the table. Butterflies surrounded him as he worked, even landing on his hands.
I scrubbed it down before it was painted and butterflies were landing all over it then too.
My mom is a butterfly, so I believe the restoration made her happy.
Now that it’s finished, just looking at it makes me smile, overcome by the flood of memories it invokes.
I had my coffee at it this morning and as butterflies flitted by, I could feel my family, young and unscathed by the heartaches yet to come, unburned by the tragedies and the pain we would all go on to experience.
Those were innocent days. I just didn’t know. I am thrilled to have the table to remind me.
Christmas is the time of year for remembering.
I feel my mom all around me because Christmas was my mom’s favorite time of the year. She is the spirit of Christmas to me.
I’m not sure why it was her favorite because it was also her hardest time of year, with my dad drinking and crazy and hating Christmas.
But, it was and she always made sure…somehow, someway, that there were a few presents and a lot of love surrounding her kids. I will always remember rolling hundreds of Italian Cookies with her, every year.
Sometimes we had family over for the holiday dinner. I always considered their presence a Christmas miracle because Dad would stop his ranting and raving for just a few hours. He would smile and talk like a normal person and it always amazed me how he could turn it off and on.
I guess he must have known the insane screaming was wrong. Why else would he have stopped the moment people came into our house?
Yes, Christmas is a time for remembering and as I move on from my childhood memories, I remember my own babies and how I felt like a child myself when they were young.
I try not to think of where I fell short.
I try to remember where I succeeded.
I miss them. I miss those babies who grew up before I was ready to let them go.
Pampers and pacifiers, Cabbage Patch dolls and Lego’s. Hot Wheels and Strawberry Shortcake. Little hands rolling Italian Christmas cookies growing into teenagers hanging KISS posters.
Far to soon, my children were in the driver’s seat, grand-babies and weddings and great-grandchildren.
My best chance to be what they needed has been dissolved by time, time I thought was mine.
If you have babies and children still at home, remember that Christmas is a time for remembering.
Create the good memories now, not next year. Next year is not promised.
As the snow is falling outside your windows, and the Christmas lights are blinking on every porch, live the day you’d like them to remember.
When you look back to now from someday in your future, you’ll smile and your heart will be filled with joy instead of tears and regrets.
Christmas is the time of year for remembering.