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My mom...and Christmas ambivalence




Another post about my love/hate relationship with Christmas.

Inside part of me really does enjoy the decorating and baking...the lights above all.  I am nothing if not a huge proponent of shiny and sparkly things.  The dichotomy is I get so moody this time of year.  I'm pretty introverted irl in the best of times, but the time of year I most want to retreat into my own head is the time the social expectations for interaction and cheer increase.  The dichotomy kicks my ass every year.

I know what it is - I've always known.  I miss my mom.  

She died when I was in my mid-20's so it's not fresh grief.  It's almost like losing her left me with a permanent injury to my spirit, psyche, whatever..  Most of the time it's manageable, but sometimes the old injury flares up and reminds me that no matter he functional I'm still not really okay.

This was her time of year.  The decorating, the baking...every free moment in December found her in the kitchen, flour on her apron, turning out the most coveted cookies and pastries.  It's said there are cooks and there are bakers...her cooking was okay but she could bake like a boss.

My relationship with my mom is complicated...even though it's existed only in my head for the last 20 or so years.  I can say without any hesitation she was the most genuinely kind and selfless person I've ever known.   She spent her life helping others both in her professional and her personal life with no thought to personal gain and no matter the personal cost.  Despite various personal traumas throughout her life she had an unwavering faith in human decency.  She saw the good in everyone, even when it didn't  exist.  She had a capacity to forgive the unforgivable which I still have yet to see in another human being.  I don't believe she had it I her to ever intentionally hurt anyone.  She radiated love.

We grew up hearing from everyone how lucky we were to have her for our mom.  And we were, in many ways she was a wonderful mother and I wouldn't trade for anything, even though it meant a childhood of hearing how disspointed people were that I was nothing like her.

So why is it complicated?  Because she died before I was old enough to understand that even though it was completely genuine, maybe her need to nurture and forgive to such a degree existed as a result of the trauma she suffered and not in spite of it.  Because refusing to see people for who they really are negates the ability to protect your kids when necessary.

That's some of it - but most of the time I'm pretty settled in my head because I truly believe she did the best she could and did a hell of a job with the tool she had.

What bothers me is shallow and a completely moot point since she's no longer here...I'm can't shake the feeling she'd be disappointed if she were to see me today.   Besides the love of animals, Christmas lights, and being cavity prone I am her polar opposite.  The same moody, often sullen, skeptical, smart-ass who won't shut up when shits not right...if it matters to me - but far fewer things matter to me.  She would love me, for sure, because she loved everyone.  And she would see some generic good in me because I managed not to become a murderer, but I think she wouldn't want to look too closely at who I really am.  I know she would be proud of the vigilance with which I've protected my kids, that was her only regret at the end of her life...but other than that I'm not sure she'd like me.

Real me can deal with that...I like me...but the stunted part of my brain that never matured and still desperately needs her approval gets super yappy about it around the holidays.  That part of my brain needs a mute button - like how you can mute picture in picture on the tv.

Merry Christmas, Mom.

This is one of my favorite pics of her from long before I was born...she's with one of my sisters and paternal gramma and mom is ...holding up a shoe.  I asked her about it when I was a kid and she laughed and said she had no idea. 


I wonder if the shoe is behind her back in this one...


She loved the shiny - this was in the 1950s and she laid every piece on ther by hand...the tree later collapsed which my dad blamed on the ridiculous amount of tinsel.









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What a beautiful tribute of sorts. My parents are both still living, but I have similar feelings about the failed expectations I project onto my dead relatives (many of whom I never met but I know a lot about because I'm the family historian).

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I think that was lovely.  We all have mixed feelings about our parents for our own reasons, that in no way negates how much we miss them when they are gone.

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Thank you for sharing this.  There is much I wish I could say to you, but none of the words feel right.  You don't like hugs from strangers, so consider your direction warmly smiled towards. ;)


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