My mother tells me my blog posts are too dark. She thinks they negate all the years of her attempting to give me a happy childhood. I assure her I was in fact, born dark and no amount of sunshiny rah-rah sleep-away camps while growing up was ever going to change that fact.
So in light of current criticism I decided to give Mom her due. She certainly deserves it for giving me the best memories I have of all: Christmas.
Since my mom and dad divorced when I was eight, Mom had the daunting task of putting up the Christmas tree all by herself. No easy task as I discovered this year when, for the first time I had to screw a monster of a seven-foot tree into a plastic stand, with no one around to tell me whether it was straight or not. After an hour of trial and error, it wasn’t. Straight, that is. It still isn’t. I figured it adds to the whole charm of single motherhood.
For whatever reason, as a child I wasn’t too excited about decorating the tree. If my mom did it all, that was fine with me. But she’d force me. She wasn’t anal-retentive like I am now. I let my nine-year-old place ornaments on our tree, but I usually move them around more to my liking when he’s not looking.
Once our tree was fully decorated, I’d sit alone in the dark gazing at the twinkling lights, intoxicated by the smell of pine, embracing the silence. In those moments, all things were possible.
What my mother truly excelled at was gift wrapping. Every Christmas eve, she’d hole herself up in her bedroom for hours, creating masterpieces. One year all my packages were decorated with seashells; another year it was a smorgasbord of patterned ribbons cut and glued to make elaborate designs. Some years the gifts were covered with words drenched in sparkly glitter, other years it was miniature pine cones and buttons. I’m telling you, it was like MOMA in our house every December.
She always got me everything on my list too, sort of as a way of making up for the fact that she couldn’t buy me much throughout the year. An Overcompensation Holiday of sorts, and it resulted in me becoming extremely spoiled. The first year I was with my ex I handed him my Christmas list and told him, “Here’s my list. I’m used to having a BIG Christmas!” Poor guy. But at least the next woman he’s with will thank me.
In carrying on the spoiled tradition, I find myself doing the same with my son. Not the elaborate wrapping. My son wouldn’t care if his presents were wrapped in toilet paper. I get him everything he wants, though, within reason. He’s not getting an i-Phone or i-Pad this year like he wants, but he’ll get everything else. Am I overcompensating for the lack of a father in his life? Yeah, probably. Will he become spoiled? He already is. Am I setting up all of his future wives for failure because they’ll never measure up to me? Absolutely!
Don’t get me wrong. I do recognize the true meaning of the season and it’s certainly not gifts. At least not the monetary kind. My son will too, eventually, when I force him to volunteer at a soup kitchen one of these years. But for now while he’s young, all I care about is the look of joy on his face when he first walks in to the living room and sees all the gifts Santa has left. A child never forgets those moments.
So thank you Mom, for decorating the entire apartment every year by yourself, while I sat on the couch pretending to help; for staying up until the wee hours wrapping till your fingers bled; for going into debt because you charged things you couldn’t afford; and for making Christmas the most magical time of year for me.
(This post is probably as warm and fuzzy as I’ll ever get.)