Saturday, December 16, 2017

Ghosts of Christmas Past...God bless us, every one

Buttercup Cottage Christmas photo by KL Wood
Our house is haunted. Not the spooky, howling Halloween sort of haunting, but the gentle kind that nudges at your heart and sparkles in the Christmas lights. Living in our little cottage on West Church Street, I feel the spirit of more than one hundred Christmases whispering through the rooms. Lean years, bountiful years, marching in a parade spanning five generations of weddings, funerals, birthdays, and holidays. And Christmases. Especially the Christmases.

When our realtor introduced us to it in the spring of 2012, we felt at home the very first time we crossed the threshold. Despite the fact that the house had stood empty for many years, the spirit of family love was imprinted in its walls, and palpable in the air. This will make a wonderful Christmas House, I thought. And it did. A house with the warmth of Christmas spirit throughout the year, blooming and overflowing with it each December.

Mama and Daddy Christmas Spirits photo by KL Wood
It seems fitting then, that this year our home is sweetly haunted by one spirit in particular. One who loved Christmas with all her heart. My mother. Mama passed away, here in her bedroom, on December 26, 2016. When she returned home to us under hospice care, after a brief hospital stay, we all prepared for the bittersweetness of her final days. Mama had two goals: to celebrate her 93rd birthday on December 16th, and celebrate Christmas with her children, grand and great-
grandchildren. She achieved both.

On her birthday, Mama rallied enough to get dressed and out of
Christmas Tree 2017 photo by KL Wood
bed, donning a party hat and video-chatting on a computer with her great-grandchildren who were still at home in the snows of upstate New York. As she slipped in and out of consciousness during her last days, we overheard her, on more than one occasion, telling my father to wait a little longer. Daddy passed away in 2001.

On Christmas day, she had enough periods of wakefulness that she could interact with all of us, including those two precious great-granddaughters who made it in time to hug their Nana one more time. Then, on the afternoon of the 26th, surrounded by family, she crossed over as gently as the extinguishing of a Christmas candle. As a matter of fact, death at Christmas has become a bit of a family tradition. In addition to Mama’s passing on the 26th, both my father’s oldest sister and my mother’s oldest sister died on December 25th in years past.

Sophie and Minna's Christmas Dream Time photo by KL Wood
In some ways, of course, this makes for a tough holiday season at times. My family is used to me welling up with tears on a pretty regular basis, whether upon hearing a particular Christmas song, hanging ornaments on the tree, or preparing one of Mama’s Christmas staples: collard greens, boiled with ham hocks. So whether this is your first or your fiftieth holiday season without loved ones, welcome those tears as a reminder of the depth of love you share with them and know, in your heart, their spirits are present among the glitter and glow of your decorations and within the notes of the Christmas music you hold dear.

Merry Christmas, everyone. And may the loving Spirits of Christmas, gently haunt you.

Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back, now.
And Warmest Christmas Wishes!


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