My Mom and Her Determination

(Here’s a re-posting of a piece I wrote some time ago. It’s the time of the year…but with all the uncertainty, I missed the actual date of March 19th. My mom has now been gone for 11 years, but the sentiment remains. Nevertheless, here it is…)

It has been almost 8 years since my mother died. Thoughts, sights, and sounds remind me of her almost daily.

Words she often turned into her own askew versions. Her penchant for reading EVERY street sign whenever she was in the car. Twinkies she hid in the freezer in violation of her diet. The one constant reminder is my white hair, undeniable genetic evidence that part of her remains with me.

These are memories of a special woman.

Each year, on a particular date, there is a poignant reminder of something she did for me.

I suspect she had similar traditions with my brother and sisters; she was that kind of a mom.

She had a way to make you feel special.

Nevertheless, this one was between us.

As many of you know from my writings, I do not share the faith that my mother did. She had absolute confidence in her beliefs. Despite all the things she experienced, the joys and the sorrows, she never once doubted them.

She made a valiant effort to share her faith. If there is any blame to go around for her failed attempt to instill that in me, the fault is mine.

What is the annual event that triggers such a memory?

St. Joseph’s day.

Every year, I would get a card from my mother. It came in the mail. It was not a text, an email, or a phone call. It would arrive in the days just before the 19th, more evidence of her careful consideration and purpose.

She took the time to select, address, and mail a card. Through a simple gesture, she preserved the dying art of thoughtfulness.

The card celebrated the Saint’s day of my (sort of) namesake. Her thoughtful gesture had a dual purpose, serving as a subtle reminder of her faith. I used to chuckle whenever I opened the card. Amused by my mother’s determination, yet touched by such a simple, caring act.

She never gave up.

Since her passing, I miss the card every year and her every day.

Mom, while you may not have succeeded in making me a Saint there is a good chance you made me less of a sinner.

Happy Saint Joseph’s Day.

Christmas Traditions: Variations on a Theme

There is a commonality shared among many families around Christmas or other special holidays. They have traditions. Long held, choreographed, well-established traditions passed down generation-to-generation, by which they celebrate holidays.

We do not. I like to think of our traditions as non-traditional. Think of it as a Jazz improvisation of Christmas instead of the Handel’s Messiah version.

We like to wing it.

Each year a little different from the year before, much of this determined by the latest cast of characters.

When our daughter Kelsey first joined our non-traditional traditions, it added to the wonder and magic. Christmas consisted of mountains of presents, requiring hours of wrapping, followed by the unforgettable wide-eyed expression as she first saw the gifts.

That was just her first Christmas; it got bigger and more magical after that.

Over the years Kelsey has gone from the small, little, squirming, bundle of wonder into a remarkable young woman.

She stands on the cusp of a new period of her life; she is engaged to an equally remarkable young man. Soon, if they are as fortunate as my wife and I, they will create their own Christmas traditions. Whatever they turn out to be.

This year’s celebration of Christmas Eve consisted of much good food, small gathering of family, and watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas and The Muppets Christmas Carole.

The Muppets have the best lines.

…light the candle, not the rat! Light the candle, not the rat!

 I told you, storytellers are omniscient; I know everything!

 Hoity-toity, Mr. Godlike Smarty-Pants.

And our personal favorite, which I suppose comes as close to an annual tradition as anything else,

…and Tiny Tim, who did NOT die…

Therefore, our Christmas tradition will continue to vary year to year. Over the next few years we hope to add a few new cast members (subtle hint), and create some new variations on the theme. (No pressure there Kelsey and Charles, take your time, we can wait for a bit)

Our non-traditional tradition always includes wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy whatever it is you do to celebrate this time of year.

….Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men…as Linus would say.