My mother loved Christmas. She always made a fuss over it. The last outing she took in her life was to a Christmas service with my nephew and his wife. She rose up Christmas morning and told my brother that she was dying. A nurse, Mama knew all the signs, even when it was her own dying.
She died the next day.
But before that awful season of her dying, Mama always did Christmas up big. She’d be the first to get her tree up. It was fake. When we were growing up in that trailer house, the tree was a four foot aluminum foil tree. I think of it fondly now, in the nostalgia that comes when there’s been a far distance between actually living in the trailer. I’m thankful for the experiences. I never want to repeat them.
I think one of the reasons Mama liked Christmas best wasn’t for any religious reasons but because Mama loved to shop and Christmas gave her all the reason in the world to do just that.
Gift-giving was my mother’s love language, as my own daughters might say about me, indeed, have said about me. My mother loved to give and receive gifts, as do I.
On that last Christmas together, the first thing my mother said to me when she saw me was, “You didn’t bring me a present!” I had bought her a gift a few days prior but that wasn’t enough. It was Christmas Day. She wanted another gift.
One of the gifts I had bought her earlier was a small tabletop tree. Quite a bit smaller than the aluminum one we had in the trailer, it was every bit as kitschy and delighted her to no end. I keep it in my bedroom year round now and light it during the holidays. My mother would have me leave the lights plugged in all night so she could see the twinkles. She loved that tree with the tiny pink and silver balls and silver star. Nowhere near as elegant as the trees she decorated over the years, it still brought her joy in her dying days.
Joy is something I am always hard-pressed to find during the holidays. The season that brought my mother such joy has always been a season of loss for me. Dad left for Vietnam at Christmas. This years marks the 50th anniversary of that leaving. Mama died the day after Christmas. I am sure she held on because she didn’t want our Christmases forever marred by her dying.
But, like my mother, giving gifts always brings me joy.
So I’m giving away a few of my favorite things – books and jewelry. Sign up below. Tell me a holiday story of your own if you like.
I love pretty jewelry. It’s one of my favorite gifts to give and to get and Sweet Romance is one of my favorite companies. Sign up below for a chance to win this necklace or a pair of earrings, perhaps.
Did you know that Beth Moore, Bible Study teacher, has written a novel? She has! And it’s a mystery set in one of my very favorite cities – NOLA. If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Beth’s book, sign up.
One of my very favorite mystery writers is Ann Hite. The girl knows how to weave a tale or two. Have you read her Ghost on Black Mountain? One of my all time favorites. Ann’s an old-fashioned Southern storyteller.
And we can’t end a giveaway without another story of grandma thrown in, now can we? Books make the best Christmas gifts. Books and jewelry, that is.
I have just finished up the last of the edits for the last in the series of the Appalachian tales. Christian Bend will be out next September, but if you’d like a chance to get up to snuff, as they say around the hills, my last offering is an autographed copy of BURDY. I’ll be drawing names and giving away each of these items over the next few weeks, so share the with your friends and family and y’all sign up for a chance to win!