Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh Come, Oh Come

I helped my mom clean her house today. There were over 20 family members and 5 dogs here for Christmas. During the last 24 hours there has been a mass exodus, and now it is just me and Mike here to help clear up. I love being here for Christmas. I don't think any of my family shops for anything in December except for food and art supplies. It is not a good idea to be at my mom's house and trying to lose weight, or wishing for a blender for Christmas. There is always plenty of home made, non-nonfat food available, and we are all busy right up to the last minute making gifts for each other. Now that many of the grandkids are in college, the activity throughout the house is multi-generational. My nieces learned how to cook the caramel fudge to the perfect soft ball stage, and how to know when to stop beating it so it was the right consistency. My sister and I were trying not to trip over each other in Mom's studio, each of us working with different mediums. I was framing pictures past midnight on Christmas Eve. My daughter gave up sleep to help Mom wrap everything.
Christmas morning, everyone is dressed and done with breakfast before lining up, youngest to oldest, to enter the living room and open stockings and presents. Years ago we started the tradition of opening each gift one at a time so everyone could see what had been created and given. I used to wonder if we were trying to outdo each other, but now I just realize that we love and trust each other enough to offer our precious creations as gifts and know they will be appreciated. This is where many of our experiments and explorations in creativity get first exposure and feed back. Over the years we have gasped, cheered, and celebrated handmade dolls, quilts, one-of-a kind books, fine lettering, metal work, paintings, drawings, original writing, sculpture, assemblages, and much more. This year there were paintings on glass, mixed media clocks, honey from my brothers own beehives, heritage photos, original poetry, and art photos. As the morning goes on, it almost becomes an emotional aerobic workout. The only competition seems to be for the one who is most excited about their gift.
It all culminates when the end of a red string appears on the floor, leading off through the rooms of the house. We follow the string up and down the stairs, out the back and in the front doors until it ends up back in the front room attached to the final and most wonderful gift. Dad was always the one to figure out something great for all of us to enjoy at the end of the string. After his death eight years ago, the siblings took over and we somehow come up with something amazing for Mom. This year, my niece had made a bronze sculpture of Mom and Dad dancing, with a music box in the base that played Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable". It was their song. She had designed the sculpture from a picture of them taken on their first date 57 years ago. Two of us had to hold Mom up when she saw it. Yeah, I think she liked it.
Okay, so the dogs didn't all get along all the time, and some of the grandkids were putting all their energy into being too cool to show excitement and no energy into saying thank you, and most of us were sleep deprived, and not everyone could be here, and we never get enough time together - it is still a wonderful way to spend Christmas. Family and creation and giving.
I think I'll come back next year.


Big Bahama Mama said...


Jody said...

Dear Jody

Thank you for knowing that I'd love sharing Christmas with you, if only long distance. I had forgotten about the red string and your family. Love to you all - hard to believe that Sue and I finally got to the -cousin party'.

Hugs all around California Jody

Jody said...

I am so glad I got to see you.