Monday, December 08, 2014

Happy birthday Mom.

The alert on my phone chirped early this morning reminding me that both my mom and Jilda’s mom have birthdays in December.

I was already awake because the wind blew hard for most of the night causing the water oak in our yard to drop acorns on our metal roof. It sounded like an army of mice roller-skating in the attic.

I’m not sure why I put that alert on my phone, because we’ve never forgotten their birthdays. In fact, we bought flowers for their graves over a week ago. Most people buy their flowers prearranged, but Jilda prefers to mix and match to put her personal touch on the arrangements. She has a gift for this. Later, we drove to both cemeteries to place the flowers. We stood in silence for a long time.

The sky was a stunning shade of blue with cotton-candy clouds drifting slowly off to the northeast. There’s nothing like an autumn sky. This was my mom’s favorite time of year. When our parents were living, we usually spent Thanksgiving with Jilda’s family, where we ate until we almost spewed.

In the afternoon, my family would converge on my mom’s house to begin the annual Christmas decoration ritual. The women folk worked on the tree, tables and mantle inside, while the guy’s hauled weatherworn snowmen, faded life-sized Santa’s with reindeer and sleigh across the yard. She also had giant candlesticks and candy canes carved from plywood that we’d prop up in her yard. Each year as we began, there was a lot of whining and grumbling as we untangled mountains of Christmas lights. Each strand had to be tested to make sure that all the lights worked. She kept replacement strands that she’d bought at the after Christmas sale the previous year.

Those with good knees climbed the ladders and strung lights around the eves. The rest of us wrestled the larger decorations into place and ran extension chords.

The upside of this ritual is that we worked off all the turkey and dressing we’d eaten earlier, making room for the desserts that awaited us inside on mama’s table.

After the decorating was finished, we gathered inside around the fireplace to sip mama’s Christmas punch, and sample the holiday pies, cakes and candy that filled her table.

We usually didn’t leave until dark. Those old decorations didn’t look like much in daylight, but at night her yard, and the community around her, were transformed into a winter wonderland. People from all around would drive slowly through the community to admire all those twinkling lights. That made my mom happy.

I’m sure the power company added workers at the steam plant during the holiday season to keep the generators humming for those power hungry Christmas lights at her house.

In those days, I complained as loudly as anyone about the decorating ritual, but standing here today at the foot of her grave, I realized I’d give anything to have spent Thanksgiving evening at her house this year. Happy birthday Mom.


  1. What a beautiful birthday tribute to your Mom. No doubt, she'll always be such a big part of your season memories.

  2. This is beautiful Rick, what a lovely memory of you mom ;-)

  3. Great memories. Oh yes we wish we could have them back. Amazing how deep the 'mama' connection is. Enjoyed the 'sweet' post. and enjoyed the related memories. Life is good and memories are wonderful, Nice tree. Take care... (stay warm)

  4. Happy birthday Mom!!
    Nice tree!

  5. Sounds like you have wonderful memories of your mother! My grand-aunt always decorates all our relatives' graves every year...thanks to her we may be one of the only families in our area still decorating the graves of men who died in the Civil War.

  6. Such beautiful memories of your mom...I'm sure she appreciates your're keeping her alive with them! My memories of both of my parents are vivid and heartwarming, especially at this time of year. They made my childhood magical, and I will be forever grateful for that!

  7. Happy memories of the two moms. It's nice that you take flowers to them. If you value your life, you will sign up for the Christmas Memories bloghop, boyfren.


  8. Such a great birthday by the sounds of it and wonderful memories to hold onto


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