|"Outside My Front Door" |
Christmas Eve 2010 by Jo Lucas
“A mother's happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.” Honoré de Balzac
The day has a new and peaceful feel to it here in Weldon Spring. The sky is pale icy blue, unblemished by clouds. The air is crisp and cold, but not biting, as it has been in the last few days. Brother Wind has taken a break from his mischievous ways, allowing us to feel the subtle warmth of the sun’s rays. I plan on taking a very long walk in the park as soon as this post is written. Here in Missouri, we know to take advantage of any brief respite in the winter weather, because it can (and usually will) turn nasty at any moment.
For those with no children or grown children, January first heralds the end of the holiday season. It’s been that way for me for the last decade, with decorations neatly sorted and stored, presents put in their new and proper places, and the daily routine restored once more.
This year, I’ve been reminded that the official end of the holiday season is the actually the first day back at school for those of us with children in the house. I’ve just returned from the bus stop with my grandson, and my son left a while ago to drive the youngest Lucas to preschool. The house is quieter right now than it has been in weeks.
No, the house is not restored to its pre-holiday order. The dining room table is strewn with an incredible display of legos and an amazing 3-D Tinkerbell jigsaw puzzle. Decorations have begun to migrate to a staging area in the living room, but they have yet to find their way into the storage bins and nestle down for hibernation. A few gifts are scattered about (especially the poor unwanted gifts of clothing), and bare trees dot the indoor landscape.
That’s just fine by me. This holiday season will go down in history as the most precious one of my life.
How lucky am I to be able to see the faces of my two grandchildren as they woke on Christmas morning and to witness their unbridled joy at the evidence of Santa’s visit? How fortunate am I to be able to share an entire week with all my children under the same roof?
The bedrooms were full, the couches were full, and we set up a bouncy little air mattress in the family room (which was responsible for an injury to our daughter-in-law, Camille, and the subsequent [fairly hilarious] trip to the ER for five stitches). We shared bathrooms and towels and toothpaste. No one complained. At least not to me. It seemed comfortable and cozy to be in such close quarters.
We shared other things, as well. Meals with recipes I’ve finally begun to pass on to my interested children. Game nights that were filled with fun. Laughter with and at one another (some family jokes just never get old, do they?). A poignant day trip to Kansas City to visit Grandma. The two very special last evenings during which we all watched old home videos….videos which caught us all by surprise.
They entranced the two grandchildren, who felt magically transported to a time when their daddy was just their size, playing with his two little brothers and caring for a baby sister. The grown-ups were entertained by memories of the little scamp that was Spencer, the serious caretaker that was Court, the gentle authority figure that was Tony, and the charming but domineering baby that was Andrea. Some things never change.
I watched a tape of Court’s eighth birthday through tears, taken while his brother was in the hospital. It was made so that I, who was staying at the hospital with Tony, would feel a part of the celebration. It brought back a flood of heartache and the guilt I had felt at missing it.
I was taken back to a time when my parents were vital and fun loving, my father teasing his grandchildren, and my mother smiling adoringly at him. And I saw my mother-in-law, charming in her ever present curly wig, playing baseball with the gang of boys that were her grandsons, and raining affection down on the rare gem that was her granddaughter. I saw myself as a vibrant young mother, thoroughly enjoying the adventures with her brood.
Yes, we shared a lot over the holidays. But the memories we shared were the most special part of the entire week.
So now it’s time to finally restore routine and order back to the household. But first, I’m going to take a nice long walk. A few gray clouds are beginning to gather in the Weldon Spring sky, the sunshine has decreased, and I think Brother Wind has gotten word that there are walkers in the park at whose expense he might have some fun. After all, this is Missouri.