I sit three feet from the box of wax candles in shapes of snowmen and Santa Claus and pine trees, and I remember the challenges you had with pudding and names and words last Christmas.
I left up the gaudy, fake, three-foot plastic tree in your room, the lights still on, until you died in February. There wasn’t a lot left for you to enjoy, but you loved your all blue lights and silver balls. It’s my sincere hope the last thing you saw before you last closed your eyes were those lights reflected in plastic and chrome shine of those ornaments.
I realize a fake tree was a horrible violation, but it was the best I could do; nursing home rules, not mine, Ma.
Every Christmas of my young life was a tribute to JJ Newberry’s and Woolworth’s and plastic and tinsel and various and other tchotchke. I’m left, this year, to make some kind of sense of, and peace with, these boxes of plastic ivy, red and white stockings and assorted reindeer and fat men with rosy cheeks.
I lost a lot of the Jimmy Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life, Bing Crosby, White Christmas, the year my father died, but as broke as you were, physically, emotionally and financially, you soldiered through.
The last month of the year was your time and your tree needed to be real and covered with all that stuff that belonged in a dumpster somewhere, but has found it’s way in my attic. I never told you when you were alive, Ma, but I admired your courage and resolve above all.
It’s poignant and fitting and perfect the best memory I have with you was drinking Canadian Whiskey by one of your trees. The ice in your glass clinking as you sipped your drink, the blue and silver reflection shining in your eyes. Maybe the only time I really saw you smile.
Happy Christmas, Ma.