Snowman



Pick one ornament to write about? Really? As if there were not an entire treeful of hanging ornaments, and a houseful of decorations pulled out annually, each one with its own involved story? As if there were not boxes of Christmas decorations carefully catalogued and waiting for at my mother's old house, each with their own stories? As if I did not still miss ornaments I no longer have, such as the much-mourned "Dancing Rabbit Blow Horn?"

The truth is that I had one ornament in particular I was thinking of, a baby snuggled in a nutshell cradle, that was mine when I was a child and has hung on the tree since. But my 2.75 year old daughter has fallen in love with the "baby ornament" and takes it with her wherever she goes. It's now clutched in her hand as she sleeps downstairs, with the stand-up Santa my father gave me and the angel that is supposed to go on top of the tree arranged at the foot of her crib. My daughter, who replicates me in so many ways, has developed the passionate love for Christmas that runs deep in my family, and seeing the holiday through her eyes makes this bittersweet time so unbelievably, incredibly wonderful.

So instead I picked an ornament that is much more recent. Four years ago I spent the holiday season in my mother's hospital room, as she lay dying of colon cancer. It was our first married Christmas, the first living in the house together, the first of many things, but for my mother it was the last, and that trumped it all. Before everything went down I had signed up for a gift exchange in my online community, and one day a package arrived from my Secret Santa, full of incredibly thoughtful things I could use in the hospital room (lip balm, chocolate, a stuffed toy,etc.) — and this snowman, to remind me of the winter outside. My Santa that year has since moved on from that community, but Whitty, wherever you are, you knew that I needed that reminder that there was life outside.

My mother died on Christmas Day, her favorite holiday. Every year, when I clip this snowman on to the tree, I am reminded of that time, and of all that have given me the courage and caring to go on past it. I remember my mom, and her love of Christmas. I think of my husband, and his quirky collection of snowman ornaments that we've added this one too. And I smile at my daughter, who shouts "SNOWMAN!" as she unwraps it and gives it to me to put on the tree.


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Comments

Elizabeth Harty said…
What a touching story - thank you for sharing it. I can't imagine losing a loved one close to the holidays, never mind on the actual day. I'm sure you are treasuring your memories of your mom as you celebrate the joy of this season.
MollyinMinn said…
What a beautiful story. All of it. My grandfather died in our home on 12/23/87 having to come to visit us for Christmas one year after many years away. Thank you for making me remember.
What a beautiful ornament, but mostly the story behind it. Thank you for sharing ~ How wonderful to have your daughter's joy for Christmas to help balance the sadness of losing your mom.
Kate said…
That's beautiful. And it put tears in my eyes. My Mom loved Christmas too, and even though she's been gone for 16 years, Christmas is hard without her. Thankfully her memory is everywhere in my celebrations.
The Cheap Chick said…
Oh wow. I have no words. Just...*BigHugsForYou*
tracy said…
Such a beautiful story and memory. Tears here. Thank you for sharing this with us.
xoxo,t
Alexa said…
What a beautiful story. I'm sure Christmas is bitter sweet for you now, but I love that you are passing the love of Christmas on to your daughter now.
Kate said…
As a mom of a 2.75 year old girl myself, your description of you daughter was so very touching!
JennyF said…
Thank you for sharing your memories. I cannot imagine how difficult to lose your mom on Christmas Day - it brought tears to my eyes. I'm glad that you can think of her in love when you put the snowman on your tree.
Elle said…
Lovely - that brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful gift at such a time, and how lovely that you share your treasures so freely with your daughter. Love to you.
Jen said…
This whole post is just lovely. Isn't it amazing how Christmas ornaments represent such important things - your mother's love and life, your daughter's joy and enthusiasm.
simplyrejoice said…
What a touching story... it is clear that the love of Christmas lives on in your daughter, and that's a beautiful gift in itself.

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