My mother was unable to shop for Christmas for many years because of illness, so I always did her shopping, wrapped the gifts and decorated her Christmas tree. It was something I enjoyed doing for her.
Wrapping gifts was always a task I loved. As a little girl, I remember sitting at the kitchen table putting bright festive paper and colorful ribbons on gifts while Mommy (it’s a southern thing) fixed dinner or rolled out pie crust for one of her delicious cream pies. As she worked and I wrapped, she told me stories about her life. We sang silly songs and laughed a lot. I felt so close to her and very grown up because she trusted me to wrap all of the Christmas gifts for the family.
As the years passed, I grew up, got married and had two little girls of my own and I still loved to wrap her gifts. Our tradition continued with a small change when she became ill. Daddy would turn her brown rocking chair in the living room around so she could watch me wrap the gifts at the dining room table. We still laughed and she still told me stories. I treasure those moments.
One Saturday in December, when my girls were young, we went to visit my mother. Daddy had brought the boxes filled with ornaments and decorations up from the basement so we could decorate the tree. Sherry and Stacy wanted to play for a little while before decorating the tree, so I ran out to get the last few items on Mommy’s shopping list.
When I returned and pulled up in front of the house, I saw twinkling lights in the living room window. As I opened the door, I heard excited voices yelling, “Surprise, we decorated grandma’s Christmas tree while you were gone.” Sure enough, there was the tree all decorated.
Sherry had decorated one side of the tree and Stacy had done the other. Sherry, who was 6 years old and tall for her age, had evenly distributed her ornaments from top to bottom. Three-year old Stacy’s ornaments were in little clumps that stopped about ¾ of the way up the tree because that was as far as her little arms could reach. The girls were bouncing around with so much excitement saying, “Don’t you think it’s beautiful?” and “Grandma let us do it all by ourselves.”
My mother refused to let anyone change anything, saying it was the most beautiful tree in the world. Was it is the most beautiful tree ever? Maybe not, but it was a tree that represented love. The love of a grandmother who knew the importance of allowing two little girls do something that made them feel special. My girls never forgot how she made them feel that day.
Ending on a Positive Note: My mother has been gone for over 20 years, but every Christmas I still feel her with me when I wrap my Christmas gifts and put up my tree. And her lessons of love still continue on as I watch my daughters and granddaughters’ exhibit kindness and consideration to others.