Even though there are several meetings and some school work left to do, the Christmas break has officially begun after the strangest semester of my long teaching career. I am always excited to get to the holidays, but this year is different. I think we all need a dose of the normalcy of holiday traditions and spirit to buoy us and give us the hope we need to keep pushing through the awfulness of the pandemic.
After picking out our tree and decorating Chez Gainey, a big part of kicking off the holidays for me is baking cookies for friends and neighbors- and of course, the sweet seniors from the Home for Wayward Seniors, where my mom lived so happily for the last two years of her life. This year is different; I won’t be able to walk around and visit with the residents as I normally would, but I can still send them some Christmas cheer in the form of sugary treats. It is my way of continuing to honor my mother’s memory and keep her loving and generous spirit close to me.
It happens every time; I crank up the Christmas music and start baking Tollhouse and Peanut butter Kiss cookies, and the tears of remembrance come. Certain songs will pop up; Winter Wonderland and Silver Bells (Mom’s favorite), and I am transported back to my childhood, sitting next to Mom on the piano bench in the pre-dawn hours of Christmas morning as we belted out our Christmas spirit, accompanied by my playing on the out-of-tune piano. Some of my most precious memories. I have never known anyone who loved Christmas more than Mom.
This year will be different; there will be no holiday parties, no elaborate meals with family and friends, no traveling. We will hole up at home with Marley and Shiva and celebrate our own merry little Christmas, enjoying our little family traditions and the peace of solitude. Covid-19 has taken so much from so many, but it won’t take Christmas from us. I feel my mom smiling with the twinkle of every light and with every cookie I make with love. That is Christmas to me. I hope that you find your own celebration to give you hope for happier days ahead and precious memories of holiday magic of years past.