This morning my house is filled with music and warmth. Outside it’s gloomy and grey but the kitchen is cozy. The wood stove and candles are lit, the fairy lights are glowing. I’ve been singing my favorite Christmas carols and remembering years past.
In high school I sang in the choir and loved the 4 part harmonies accompanied by the piano. I’m trying to convince my family to sing and play together over the holidays. We have two pianists, a guitarist, a drummer, and three singers (soprano, alto, and tenor). It’s unlikely we’ll actually do this for a number of reasons, but I can keep hoping all the same.
I should probably be panicking because I’m so far behind on my Christmas to-do list. The tree has been decorated since last Sunday. The rest of the decorations are still in boxes waiting to be dusted off and put where they belong. Housework is piling up as I try to order gifts and write Christmas cards in addition to keeping my toddler occupied. Dancing around to Jingle Bell Rock with Blessing might be fun, but it’s not helping me get any closer to ticking chores off my never ending list.
I’m easily swayed by distractions. This blog post has taken all day because my children keep interrupting me for chats, chocolate breaks (it’s Christmastime after all, and a Celebrations gift box has already been opened), and my son Mr. T also had a surprise for me. Did I mention that he’s a budding songwriter and musician? (His dad played guitar professionally). Recently Mr T. bought a record player and he wanted to show it to me.
Seeing it brought back memories of my childhood. My mom loved music too and had a huge record collection. In the 80s she would annually host a 50s style Sock Hop. The women would dress up in poodle skirts which swirled around as they danced the jitterbug. My mom was in her element as the DJ, listening to her favorite tunes. Afterwards she’d donate the funds from the event to AA. A recovered alcoholic, she suffered chronic depression; those moments when she appeared happy and empowered meant a lot to both of us.
I think that’s why I’ve carried her records around with me my entire adult life. For years they sat in my shed in the back yard. I shipped them across the ocean when I moved to Ireland even though I assumed most are scratched and useless. Despite the big effort to declutter after the fire, I still couldn’t let them go. They symbolize so much to me.
Imagine my surprise today when Mr. T produced this gem: Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley, with my mother’s name attached to it. She was Elvis’s biggest fan, but my son didn’t know that about his grandma. There’s so much my children don’t know about her since she acquired a brain injury when I was ten years old. They never had the chance to really meet her, not the way she was before her illness.
Mr. T put on other records including Winter Wonderland, one of my favorites, and Jingle Bell Rock. I don’t know how he located the Christmas songs in the midst of all the other records he must have dug through. I could tell he was happy to see my face light up. Even his sister joined in the fun. I felt my mom’s spirit with us. She never had the chance to see where I live. She spent 32 long, lonely years in a nursing home in Ohio.
Today the past mingled with the present as it often does. I’m no closer to being ready for Christmas, but maybe it doesn’t matter if I put all of the decorations up this year. I’ve already reduced the amount of gifts I’m buying, implementing the 4 gift rule, in an effort to simplify life. No one really cares if the house is spotless as long as it’s warm and there’s good food to eat. What matters most is that we’re together, we have our health, and there’s harmony after many years of discord.
In the coming year I want to continue nurturing the relationships with my family and make memories that one day they’ll look back on and cherish. I know my mom would be proud of the life I’ve created for us. We have so many blessings which she didn’t have.
What’s most important to you in the here and now? Are you prepared for Christmas or are you taking a relaxed approach to the holidays?
This post was inspired by the prompt for Day 13 of #Manifest20: Think about the here and now. What matters to you most? How are you going to nurture what matters in 2020?