We had a merry Christmas. With Dad’s dementia so far progressed, and with my sister Barbara in extremis, we had expected it to be bittersweet, but in fact it was a happy time, a time when for a while we put our troubles aside and rejoiced very much as usual.
Mom came, and my brother and other sister, and my daughter, with her husband and little Sydney Elizabeth, who, if you ask her, will tell you she is two and a half.
Flashback: I am squatting on my heels to get down to the eye level of the newest tike in the toddler’s Sunday School room. “Welcome,” I say. “What is your name?”
“Well, Johnny, we’re very glad you’re here. And how old are you?”
“I’m three and a half, except at the airport. At the airport, I’m under two.”
I had worked hard to make Christmas as merry as possible in the circumstances, getting the house clean and decorated, planning a menu and shopping and cooking; and when everyone arrived, we had cheerful carols playing and the smell of apple pie in the air, and the pumpkin pie newly put in the oven.
On the spur of the moment, we invited our next-door neighbors, Frances and Dickie, to join our feast after church on Christmas Eve. That made it even more special.
Dickie hasn’t been able to work since his heart surgery this fall, so money is tight for them this year. Yet they brought us a $40 gift certificate to a restaurant. We will take them along when we eat there.
When the meal was done, we all piled into two cars and drove around our neighborhood to see the Christmas lights. They are always quite spectacular, because every street is lined with luminaries, thousands of them in all, and the lake is always strung with lights all the way around it, that reflect in the water.
Dickie, in the lead car, also took us to another neighborhood where the lights were even fancier.
I think my favorite memory from this year will be opening the gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. Halfway through, little Sydney disappeared with one of hers, and when we called her and her father said, “Come open some more presents!” she called back, from upstairs, “No. NO MORE PRESENTS!”
There’s a lesson there somewhere.
Barbara also had a merry Christmas. Her husband and daughters came to her hospital room and opened their presents there. We tried to give Madison (11) and Elizabeth (7) extra things this year, and they were delighted with everything. Daniel had cooked the Christmas meal and had brought it along.
The girls had both made cards for their mother. Madison’s read, “Together OR apart, I am always with you and thinking about you.” (When asked, she clarified that “apart” meant even when her mother was in the hospital instead of at home.)
Lizzie had drawn a swan (standing up, not swimming!) with musical notes coming from her open mouth, and had written, “You are like a swan in my heart, singing to me.”
My sister Wendy, the one visiting from California, came back to Mom’s place in Springfield on Christmas afternoon; Mom and I followed the day after, so we can visit Barbara every day. She’s an hour away in Baltimore.
Demetrios is coming tomorrow.
And since Christmas lasts twelve days, I think it isn’t too late to wish all of you a merry Christmas, as well!