Friday, December 26, 2008

Looking For Christmas

My mother loved to tell the story about how I slipped out of the house one day when I was five years old. When she noticed that I was missing, she came out the backdoor calling my name. She quickly discovered me peering around the corner of the apartment building in which we lived. She asked me what I was doing, and according to Mama my response was, "Looking for Christmas." This was sometime in November. Anxious for Christmas with its lights and presents to arrive, I had asked her daily, since the previous Christmas, when Christmas was coming again. As the holiday drew nearer, her response had become, "Christmas is just around the corner." That day, I went to check it out.

This year, for the first time in over 20 years, I put up a Christmas tree. I always put candles in the windows and a wreath on the door, but in the past, I've been too lazy to put up a tree. Besides, I could always go home and see Mama's beautiful tree, but this year I put up my own, with lights, and ornaments, and my father said it was beautiful.

This year was our first Christmas without Mama. This was her season. She decorated everything. We teased her that if anyone of us stood still long enough that she would wrap us with lights and tinsel. She even decorated the bathroom for Christmas.

Mama was a fabulous cook, and her talents really shined at Christmas. This year, I hosted Christmas dinner for my sister and her husband, and my father. My brother, his wife and son visited us via phone but spent the holiday in their home near Charlotte.

I wanted to make it a special dinner, reflective of all the love and care that my mother always poured into the holiday meal. Every Christmas, Mama made homemade chocolate peanut candy, a pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting, and flavored oyster crackers. I decided that I would recreate each of these dishes for our first Christmas without her.

Although I know that she is with me always, there are times that I ache for her presence so badly that I don't think that I can go on, but go on I do because there really is no other option. I had been dreading this holiday without her, but somehow, standing in my kitchen on Christmas Eve, mixing cake batter, cooking the pineapple syrup, with my father waiting to scrape the remnants of the batter out of the pan, made me feel as if she was with me more than ever. My dad also helped with the candy (he scraped the last drops of chocolate out of the pan when I was done dropping the candy by the spoonful on the foil to cool). He used to do the same for my mother. He snacked on the oyster cracker snacks that I had made the day before while waiting to make sure that the pots and pans were thoroughly cleaned.

Rhonda and Bob came over for dinner and we all had a lovely dinner of baked ham, potato salad, cabbage casserole, black-eyed peas, rolls, and lemonade, followed up with pineapple cake. Before dinner I found myself cautioning, just like my mother, not to eat too much chocolate candy or snack crackers and spoil dinner.

Mama I miss you so much. I did all right, but I'm still looking around that corner, only now it's you that I'm looking for.


Gerry said...

Sounds like you found a way to miss your mother just a little bit less. I can't help but feel she must have been a great woman to have inspired such a sense of love and loss. So that is a tribute to her, just this sense of how much she meant to her family. Gerry

kelly said...

wishing you peace and comfort...

Yasmin said...

Your memories are so poignant, especially this time of year when we feel the loss of our loved ones, It's all the things they do, I don't even eat Christmas cake now as I only ever ate my mums,she made me one for christmas which doubled as a Birthday I had 37 in all, i still look for her this time of year too.

Glad your day went well, your Mum would have been proud of you, and your siblings and Dad, just remember, she's always there watching over you all.



warrior scout said...

it struck me as i saw the feed of your post, that you may be in new territory. just how foreign it is for you, i have no idea.
but i believe in my heart of hearts that there are good things ahead. tears to be shed, no doubt, but laughter and delight and inspiration await you as well. hold fast the memories, for they keep us sane and grounded. prepare though for flight, as that is what the future holds.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Sheria, I am so glad that you hosted the dinner. I had tears in my eyes as I read your post, and I know from experience that nothing anyone says can fill the void. So, HUGS, HUGS, HUGS.

Sybil said...

I know just exactly how you were feeling and I was actually thinking about you when I got up on Christmas morning (whilst you would still be in bed !) I spent the day with my sister and the rest of the family, but like you it was a rather strange Christmas as Sarah and I said later it felt that although we were "there" we didn't feel we were , strange. Still I am sure Jacqueline would like to have seen us try to keep each other happy...I hope she did.
Much Love for now Sybil xx

The Urban Perspective said...

Heart warming post... and I feel the love you have for your mother :)
Hope you have a Blessed holiday season.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a nice XMAS :)

I know its gonna be hard this year but hopefully next year it will be a bit easier for you :(

btw.... What is this CABBAGE CASSAROLE you speak of lolol? Sounds yummy

--- Christopher

RIVER Organization said...

Merry Christmas, Sheria! Sounds like you had a great dinner. That Pineapple cake sounds interesting, never had one. May peace be in your heart.
Cliff (River)

gina said...

this was so therapeutic for you and your family and i'm sure made your mother proud. may you have peace and comfort through this holiday season and the new year. hugs

Marc said...

When it comes to grief, sometimes the only thing more painful than the loss is the idea of the loss having left you indifferent. The depth of your grief is in direct proportion to the depth of your love.

Beth said...

I ws thinking about you on Christmas and wondering how you were doing on this first Christmas...without. I'm glad you did this for your family, and I bet you made this holiday, this time of transition, a happy one for your family.

Love, Beth

Linda S. Socha said...

I can so understand the loss of a mom. We are never ready to let them go and...they are always with us.
I hungered for my mother's voice. I dreamed of all the meanings of her life...I tried to take on attributes that were hers...but they were not mine.

About 10 years after her death, I dreamed we were traveling in the Alps ( no idea why..I have never been there) She called me on the cell phone and it was if I could hear her voice as clear as a bell....What a gift..She died in 1987.....I know you will celebrate your mother.

Robin said...

I LOVE that cake............. and I know your dad is glad you made it, and yes, putting up and decorating a tree, in her honor. There is joy and peace AND grief, in Christmas. God knows. And, may your Mama be at peace now, for she does know she is loved, as are you.

aims said...

Hi Sheria, I somehow missed this post. I thought of you and your family this Christmas. Your decorations and your cake are just beautiful. I can understand how making your mom's dishes made you feel close to her in spirit. I think of my grandmother every time I'm cooking something she taught me and I swear, I can close my eyes and hear her as I remember her teaching me the recipe. And I can only imagine how difficult my daily life would be without my mother.

Sending you many hugs and good wishes for a happy and blessed new year!