Posted by: bree1972 | December 21, 2009

A Minnesota Christmas Gift 12/22/09

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.



  1. Brenda, today’s post is so, so sweet. I miss my Mama everyday too, but at Christmas the most. Mama sang in the 1st Methodist Church choir in Dublin for more than 40 years and had a beautiful soprano voice and every year at some time during Christmas she would sing the solo “Oh Holy Night”. I wish I could hear her sing that one more time. Merry Christmas Brenda and Ted.

    • The most beautiful promise we have, Samille, is that one day you will hear her sing again.

      Merry Christmas to you and Ralph. We love you both.

  2. As I sit here crying, I thought of my own mother who passed away 17 years ago on Valentine’s Day. She was laid to rest with the valentines her six young grandchildren made for her that day. She is missed every day. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • Oh, Hilde, what a beautiful tribute to your mom and a vision that has to make you smile through your tears, when you think of that day. Love in Christ, Brenda , 12:24:00 +0000 > To: >

  3. Once again my friend thank you. Yesterday I could not stop thinking of my mom dad grandmother brother all those that are NOT here with me. I even wrote a post on my about the days past. what a beautiful gift you have given…

  4. I have been enjoying your way with words for many months now. I had to respond today as I totally understand how you’ve been feeling.
    My dad died 17 years ago tomorrow. He had a stroke one week before Christmas and died two days before Christmas. I thought that the holidays would never be the same, but my younger child, my son was still so little then that I had to make happy memories for him. My dad would have wanted it that way.
    In my heart, though, Christmas is forever changed…

    • Laura, thanks so much for writing. I know losing someone you love so close to a holiday makes that holiday even harder to get through. But, as you said, your dad would want you to continue making those happy memories for those who love you so much. I believe one day we will all be together again in a perfect place – no more tears then. What a great Christmas THAT will be!

  5. Even though we had “spoken” about your intended blog theme for today’s post, Brenda, to actually see and to read it is so very humbling. To think my simple little idea for a unique gift to bring Christmas joy to my Mom (who really is just my BEST friend disguised as my Mother!) has ‘snowballed’ into something so much bigger.. that just the idea of this homemade ‘book’ of some of your special stories is bringing joy to YOU as well, is——well it just warms my heart!!

    A simple gift- and really, isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas anyway?!!

    Merry Christmas Brenda. Thank YOU for the special gift you give to all of us through your words in each day’s post!

    from Jane in Minnesota

    • Thank you, Jane, for allowing me to use your email and your and your mom’s names in today’s post. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family, and hug Carol for me – a BIG one! Brenda P.S. Please don’t forget to send me a picture of your mom and that “book”!

  6. Just like Hilde, I was crying by the time I finished reading your thoughts of your mom. I think of my mom every Christmas and all the love she put in the great meals we had that day. It didn’t matter what was happening in the world or her life she always made them special. We also had a custom of having a cousins party every month and mom always took Dec. To this day my cousins always talk about all the food she fixed for us. I also was crying when I finished because I was thinking of the 34 Christmas’ we had with our son, Andy. This is the 10th Christmas without him. He loved Grandma’s dinners.
    Jane your gift to your mom is such a wonderful idea.
    Bree, have a Merry Christmas and know your mom will be right there watching.

    • Oh Charlotte – I cannot imagine – truly, truly cannot imagine the passing of one of my children. It’s just not the way it’s supposed to happen, is it. If for no other reason, I’m glad what I wrote today has given you and others a chance to talk about their parents, grandparents, brother, and your Andy, who are no longer with us. They will forever be with us in our hearts, but sometimes putting that love into words helps a little with the hurt. I hope your Christmas is a great one, Charlotte. And you know what. I just bet the whole group is up there saying, “OK, guys, enough with the tears. We’re having a great time getting to know each other, and we’ll all very happy. See you when you get home!”

  7. Brenda, your Mom must be so proud of you. You live your life in a way that honors her every day. I’m so thankful to know you.

    • You are too kind, Mike.

  8. Others have said it well mom has been gone for 16 years and my dad for 42 years (died at 59…way too young!) I still miss both of them but I know that they would want us to celebrate the birth of Jesus and enjoy our children and grandchildren. Our whole family of 5 married children and spouses, 16 grandchildren (and girl friends and boy friends) and 4 great grandchildren are all going to be together on Christmas day this year for the first time in several years and that is my special blessing this year!!
    Thanks Brenda for sharing your heart..Christmas really does bring back the best memories doesn’t it?? 🙂

    • Oh my goodness – are you renting out a convention center! What fun – and what memories will be made at your home this year! Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

  9. No convention center…Our daughter Lori and her husband (Alyssa’s parents) have a large house and they are the ones that get to be blessed with all of us!! Of course all 16 grandchildren aren’t old enough to have “a friend” so it isn’t too bad..after the gifts are opened and dinner is over the kids sorta scatter into different groups and have a great time.. last year we had a group activity of making gingerbread houses out of graham was a fun time!! This year it may be a game marathon session!!

    • Sounds like a WONDERFUL Christmas!

  10. […] and pictures from my Mackinac Island blog.  In case you missed it, you can go back and read at  In it I talked about missing my Mom at Christmas time, and what a wonderful gift Jane had […]

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