This year, I celebrate my first Christmas without my mother. I thought about running — far away. Sometimes avoidance is the best solution. But, I’ll stay… here. The lights are on the house, the poinsettias are placed ever so cleverly, the stockings are all hung — including my mother’s and father’s. There is no where you can hide that your memories won’t find you — especially the sad ones.
I love the Christmas season. My goal is to attempt to get people to shake their heads in disbelief at the sight of my decorations — of course, that is not my husband’s goal. So we reach a happy medium. The truth is, those beautifully decorated homes only occur in magazines where the children are fake and the dogs don’t continually knock the glass balls off the tree to play fetch — and no, I’ve never seen a magazine’s Christmas layout with a cat who had partially digested tinsel protruding from … well, you know. So my motto is, why try to replicate the idea of perfection when you can have the reality of imperfection?
Every year our Christmas tree falls over — every year. We get a real tree (please, if you get a fake tree just keep that to yourself… I don’t want any fighting here), and no matter how long we let it settle into the stand — once it’s decorated, it falls. Now that’s a picture I want to see in Good Housekeeping. Each year we wait to see if this will be the first year our tree doesn’t topple — so far, the tree is winning.
Our lives are filled with so many “firsts” aren’t they? The first always gets the most celebration — first birthday, first step, first tooth, first car, first date. The first is always the one that has the most memories, the most pictures, the most elaborate stories. I have some great video and photos of my children during their first’s. They love to watch it as much as I do.
My father gave me a dvd a couple of Christmas’s ago with my first steps on it (I won’t mention the part where I continually fell down and my oldest sister continually propped me back up only to watch me fall again and again and again — wait, yes I did mention it). My husband and I have many pictures of our first apartment — it was hideous — (why do I have those pictures?). We have great pictures of our first dog — (good grief, she was cute). We have tons of pictures of our first-born (trying to continually make up ground with the other two). I was rummaging through some old papers to discover the deed to my grandparents first house. First’s are special, they are memorable.
I have scheduled a trip to Disney right after Christmas. My youngest is very excited about getting an opportunity to meet her favorite princesses. She’s been there before — it was her first birthday. We celebrated it there, with my mother and father. We always took vacations with my parents — the beach, Disney World, the Smokey Mountains (yes, I mean Dollywood). I’m sure my husband and I took vacations by ourselves, without my parents — I just can’t remember them.
The last vacation we all took together was about two years ago. My father was on a break from his chemo treatments and was recovering fairly well from his surgery to remove a lung. He wanted to visit his mother, his sisters, and his brothers. He had a great time. We went to eat with my parents high school friends, had a cook-out with his mother and siblings, and toured the town they grew up in — for the last time. I guess firsts are always followed by lasts.
The day after Christmas we will head out to Disney, for our first real vacation without my parents. I will stay to face this first Christmas — without them. I will put off my running away. I will take pictures and videos and I will laugh, and my kids will laugh… and we will be together. And perhaps, this will be the first Christmas that our tree doesn’t fall, that our dog doesn’t eat half the ornaments, and that our fuse box doesn’t just give up — but, I hope not.