Embracing a new Christmas

IMG_3097Happy this morning with my new life. The river is flowing fiercely, a dull orange. The tufted titmice, chickadees, cardinals, and finches are gorging at the bird feeders. It is very grey and cold outside.

Confession. After my mom died last year, I used some remaining money on an Amazon gift card someone had given her to buy some squirrel-proof bird feeders. During the short five months we lived together in this house, we had hung some birders and enjoyed keeping track of the different birds that visited us. One day, against my mother’s wishes, I turned an arm chair around so that it faced out though the glass doors to the deck so that she could bird watch in more comfort. She succumb to the temptation of that chair and spent a few hours just watching the birds. Later she chastised herself for that indulgence, so much time just sitting there watching instead of getting something done. I don’t wonder where my desire, my need, for productivity comes from.

After a few months, the squirrels finally discovered the feeders and thus began my futile IMG_3116attempts to limit their intake. I suggested to my mother that we buy some squirrel-proof bird feeders. Her frugality, another value I inherited, put an end to that. Too much stuff, she’d say. We don’t need to buy anything more. And yet, she died, and I bought them. I went against her wishes there but don’t have regrets. Each of those birds out there brings back sweet memories of my mother’s enjoyment of her new life in Georgia.

IMG_3109It’s the time of the year for me to think of her. December last year was probably our best month. We had moved into this new home and established routines. Yesterday, with the day’s outdoor activities canceled due to rain, I used the time to find the little artificial tree I set up last year and then to figure out where I had stored the Christmas stuff.  New life and new home has meant new storage spots.

I found the Christmas tree in the downstairs storage room and took out the Christmas IMG_3124items chosen to make the trip to Georgia rather than go to the Catholic social services shop back on Long Island before we packed all of Silver Lake Place into a POD to ship it south.  My Christmas decorations, thus, are really my mom’s — her festive silk fruit centerpiece, the gold manger music box that was always a delight to wind up as a kid, the bird Christmas ornaments, another wooden German music box. My mother loved music boxes.

I’m good this year with mostly my mom’s Christmas stuff. Maybe I’ll go down to Richard’s house and get some of the decorations that we used as a family unit (we are very easy going about sorting out our accumulated things). Much of our Christmas stuff is actually from my mother. As a grandmother, she kept the girls clothed and IMG_3125overflowing with Beanie Babies and contributed heavily to our Christmas decor. I will probably get some Christmas lights. I like the idea of outlining my little front porch with electrified Christmas colors, a little something for those passing by at night and me driving home from an evening event.

And so December continues. I will continue to re-invent my life and that includes embracing a new version of Christmas. I don’t want to reject it, ignore it, run from it. I like having a time of year different from the everyday life of the rest of the year. I like the lights and Christmas parade and announcements of Christmas concerts and holiday pottery sales and the Christmas sing-a-long at Little Kings. A yearly time of reflection and gratitude and family and friends and celebrations and quiet moments and nature quieting down as we end yet another cycle around the sun.

This entry was posted in Christmas, Family, Life lessons, Ordinary life, Reinventing myself. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Embracing a new Christmas

  1. Katie says:

    Love your sweet Mom memories. This will be also a year with my Mom gone and we will remember her fondly.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Heartrentingly (sic?) lovely.


  3. turtleman2 says:

    I admire you preserving your mother’s wishes in your heart but not keeping them from building your life the way you want it to be. It can be hard to strike a balance between honoring the memories of those we love but still being true to ourselves. My parents (and Lila’s parents, too) were children of the Depression, and that shaped their view of material things in ways that still echo in our lives — especially in the thought pattern, “I can’t throw this away; it might be useful for something someday.” Shudder. So, sometimes I have to literally say, “Sorry, Dad,” as I put something that might, maybe, someday, perhaps be useful into the Goodwill pile or recycling. Enjoy your squirrel-free bird feeders and a Christmas full of memories. I know you will make new memories of your own, too. Some of them will involve chickadees laughing at frustrated squirrels.


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