What My Mother Taught Me About Christmas
Christmas is a time that makes me think about my loved ones who have passed, my grandparents, my mother, my father, my aunts, and my uncle. I think about all the Christmas’ that has gone by. Everything has been stored in my memory and returned to me as if it were just moments ago.
My mother especially loved Christmas. We talked about it many times; the lights, the music, the holiday shows, she loved it all. When I sit and reminisce, I can find life’s lessons in my mother’s love of the season.
My mother planned for Christmas throughout the year. Every week she deposited money into a Christmas Club. I can still remember the coupon book issued by the bank. A coupon was represented every week, and she would make her designated deposit. My mother never talked about money, so I don’t know how much her weekly deposit was, but I can say she was faithful to her obligation. When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to start my own Christmas Club, just like my mother, and when I got my first job at 16, that was just what I did. My mother’s lesson is to remember Christmas and plan for it throughout the year. She never complained about Christmas being a financial burden, as many people do, because she prepared throughout the year. My mother never felt the stress the holidays could cause; her preparedness allowed her to enjoy Christmas.
My mother didn’t put up big light displays that covered her home and front yard. She enjoyed the pretty side of Christmas, the lights and the colors. Having those special things inside her home is what she enjoyed the most. Her decorations were modest and simple. There was a mix of old decorations handed down from her mother and new ones she had bought herself. Many decorations were gifts given to her over the years and had sentimental value.
When I was grown and had moved out, I would stop to visit. My mother would give me a mini tour after putting up her Christmas decorations for the first time every year. She would say, “isn’t it pretty” as a smile lit up her face. Rarely did the decorations change from year to year, but she would look at them like a wide-eyed child seeing them for the first time, truly enjoying her Christmas home. My mother’s lesson is not to worry about how your holiday décor compares to others. What matters is that Christmas in your home is meaningful and memorable. It’s not about the size of the display. It’s about the happiness that it brings to you.
My mother loved wrapped Christmas packages. She enjoyed wrapping gifts, and she also enjoyed having wrapped gifts sitting under the tree. Our gifts didn’t wait to appear on Christmas Eve, which is not to say we did not partake in the Santa myth. I can’t say how we came to understand it. Yet the one thing I know is that wrapped presents sat under our tree weeks before Christmas came.
My mother had such a particular way of wrapping her gifts. She always bought folded gift wraps and never bought wrap on a roll. I asked her why, and she said she wanted all the gifts to look different. Folded wrap gave her assorted patterns, with every gift having its unique look. For that reason, she liked to shop at stores offering a gift-wrapping service. It brought her joy and was never about making life easy; it was about the gift wrap. My mother’s lesson is to enjoy the gift and the beauty in the wrapping. She taught me to take the time to appreciate the present and not just rip beyond the wrapping. We learned patience as our gifts sat under the tree for days and sometimes weeks just looking “Christmas pretty.”
This season, I think about the life lessons my mother imparted to me. She taught me through her love of life, her family, and the Christmas season.