Dear Mom,

Growing up, one of my favorite things to do at Christmas was make something special.  One year I folded white paper and carefully cut shapes that were then taped to the windows to look like lacy, happy, irregular snowflakes.  Another year I made “bird seed balls” and hung them with red ribbons from the trees; and a favorite year with teachers and neighbors (or so I thought) was when I washed out jelly jars and filled them with my own concoction of powered milk, cocoa, sugar and marshmallows, and tied the jar lids with gold rickrack.

The year that really taught me about “making things” at Christmas, though, was the year a neighbor tried to break a difficult habit by staying very, very busy.  She spent hours and hours and hours making a sequin/ribbon/mock-pearl and lace Christmas tree skirt.  Every stitch was by hand, painstakingly perfect.  A few days before Christmas, she was down to the finishing touches on the gold satin star–attached with lots of glittery beads–in the center of the the green felt.  She worked on it late into the night, then fell asleep on the floor next to the tree.  She awoke the next morning, shocked to realize she’d attached the star to the green felt with hundreds of beads and sequins, but without realizing it she’d also sewn the  star’s stitches all the way through to the skirt of her nightgown.

She called for help, and you responded.  Very creatively, I realize now:  you helped her cut a star-shape out of the hem of her long nightgown.  Then while she dressed in the bathroom and cried, you carefully trimmed away all the excess nightgown fabric from the underside, smoothed the ornate skirt around the base of the Christmas tree, and arranged the wrapped presents to cover the bumpy places. When you told me in confidence what had happened, I don’t remember you being critical.  The neighbor was doing the best she could to get through a hard time, you said, and she just needed a little help.

Through the years, Mom, you made place mats, table cloths, “O, Come Let Us Adore Him” wall hangings (one is pictured above, with every letter, bead and ribbon sewn by hand), and, later, you made Nativity scenes (a full set for each grandchild).  These things you created with love, in the spirit of Christmas.  But the real message you conveyed during the holidays–and every day–came from the way you always willingly helped others…and believed the best about their efforts.

Thank you for that message, Mom.

Love, Marylin


Filed under "Christmas Memories With Mom", Dementia/Alzheimer's, memories for grandchildren, neighbors

8 responses to “MAKING CHRISTMAS

  1. Aw, your mom is so nice! Beautiful story, Marylin. Thank you for sharing it. Have a very Merry Christmas and a grand New Year. Give your mom an extra hug and kiss for me.

  2. Christmas is about loving, family and friends and for sharing and sharing should always include beautiful stories whether they are about your families or friends or something that touches you and makes you feel that not everything in the world has a dark cloud hanging over it.

    You have mastered the art of sharing


  3. Marylin~My Mother made incredibly beautiful, personalized Christmas stockings for my sister and I the year we were born. She added my husband the year we married, and my three kids the years they were each born. Just a couple of years back, she added my son’s girlfriend (now fiancee). It doesn’t have quite the skill set and detail of the others, but it is all the more treasured because it will surely be the last…
    Have a wonderful holiday! And thanks for your kind note.

    • Tessa–one of the groups protective of women and children in need in Colorado Springs–thanks YOU, Leslie, for donating your writing contest prize money to them. They were touched by your Ontario-to-Colorado generosity…and the woman I first talked to asked if I was going to sponsor another writing contest! (There are so many closet writers out there, looking for a supportive community and an opportunity to show their efforts. So my answer to her was yes, we would have another writing contest in January.)
      Thank you again, Leslie. You did your mother proud, and also helped others. Merry Christmas.

  4. Beautiful story! Thanks.

  5. Marylin
    My mom is a crafts person as well. very big into flower arraingment/centerpieces and can look at almost anything and say “I can make that bigger ,better, nicer and cheaper.” As she gets older she does less and less, but still manages to do a few here and there. Started oil painting again too just recently at 82. Enjoyed your story very much

  6. Wow~! No wonder you have such a gracious, giving heart…and sense of humor. I can just see your mom’s willing and easy smile through yours. Your passion for writing is just like her passion for what she created. You do your mama proud, girl! Bravo. Thanks for posting this beautiful story so I could see it unfold all over again years later. Hugs! kd

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