A moment of truth here. This has not been an easy few days. I could not seem to get in the Christmas spirit at all. I mean the REAL Christmas spirit. Oh, the gifts were bought and wrapped, the tree was up and decorated, the grocery shopping was semi-done, the travel plans were made, even Bear would be picture perfect after Tuesday’s grooming session.
But the real spirit of Christmas had alluded me, and even to myself I have not wanted to admit what I knew was behind my doldrums. But here it is – plain and simple – I missed my mom.
This will be the third Christmas without her. The first year, having only lost her in October, I was still numb. Last year, with the excitement of buying the condo on the island, hosting Thanksgiving for the Sumner cousins, and then hosting a Christmas dinner for friends here at the lake, I was really too busy to get mopey. This year, the month of December has been very slow – no parties on the lake (it seems everyone is mopey this year) and no large crowds coming Christmas Day (thank goodness for Jason and Blair, who will arrive Christmas afternoon). December has just been blah. The Christmas boat parade raised my spirits a little, but I’m afraid that lift didn’t last long.
On Saturday before the boat parade, I rode down to Sylvester, my home town, to place poinsettias on the graves of mama and daddy. Had a nice, teary chat with them while I was there. Then I rode back by the home they had shared for over 35 years of their 50+ year marriage, and where mom had continued to live until her death in 2007. There was a “for sale” sign in the yard, which I had seen for the first time several weeks ago. I had sold the house several months after mama died to a sweet widow who had fallen in love with the house I grew up in. I talked to her many times during the house “business” and felt that she would be someone mama would love living there. And now she was selling the house.
I learned that her own family home had become available for sale, and she wanted to buy it and move back there. In my mind, I certainly understood that; but my heart couldn’t bear the thought of having no say at all in who bought the house next. Silly, I know – but it had been weighing on my mind for several weeks.
When I started blogging on Mackinac Island this summer, I can’t tell you how many times I would stop in mid-sentence and think, “I wish you could read this, mama. I think you’d like it.” The last few years of her life, I was always cutting uplifting articles out of magazines or newspapers, or printing out inspirational emails, and mailing them to her. Even though we lived only 30 miles apart, and I saw her at least once a week, she loved getting “happy things” in the mail.
Sometime during the summer, I received a comment from a reader, Jane from Minnesota, about how much she and her mother, Carol, loved the island. Carol did not have a computer, and Jane was making copies of the blog stories she liked most and sending them to her mom. Of course, I loved that.
Then today, I received an email from Jane. She told me when she read I might publish a book from the blog, she thought, “I’ll make a blog book myself, and give it to mom for Christmas.” So Jane printed out page after page of blog stories and photographs and compiled it into a spiral notebook, with pictures of geraniums on the front cover. She entitled it, “Mackinac Island Living Through Bree’s Blog….as blogged by Brenda Horton.”
Well, Ted walked in about the time I finished reading the email, and I was bawling my eyes out. “What!” he said, all worried. “I just got the greatest Christmas gift!” I said, and told him about the email from Jane.
Isn’t it wonderful how God works. Now, sometime during Christmas Day, I will pause and think about Jane’s mom opening that gift in Minnesota and reading all those words and looking at all those pictures her daughter saved for her. I will smile, and I will imagine my mom standing over Carol’s shoulder – reading along with her.
Thank you, Jane, for a wonderful Christmas gift from Minnesota. God bless.
And Mama and Daddy – I love you. Merry Christmas.
NOTE: The header is from our older son Jason and Blair’s wedding reception. Jason is on the right, Blake on the left, and mom in the middle. They had both pulled mom out on the dance floor, and I can remember to this day the absolute brilliance of her smile that night. Oh my goodness, she loved her two grandsons.