Sunday, December 6, 2015
On the Second Day of a Feminine Christmas
We laugh about it now and many other things too, but being a lone parent during the holidays seemed a daunting challenge in those early years. My first Christmas alone, when my daughter was just an infant, I wandered our big echoing house feeling very sorry for myself. I worried about my future, my daughter's, where I would find work, daycare...time, energy. I worried the gifts under the tree weren't enough even though my daughter was too young to care. I realize now it was all the future Christmases that preoccupied me. But hope came down the chimney that sad first year and I never forgot it.
While sitting before our little tree after having lit a fire by myself for the first time and while my daughter slumbered upstairs, I heard the garage door open. The only person who had the other automatic opener was my mother. I raced across the ice cold floors and yanked open the entry to the garage. Her borrowed car was filled with toys, food, and even a cord of firewood. When she stepped out into the cold garage she said, "Santa came to my house by mistake". I couldn't speak. I bowed my head and wept.
Together we propped an old-fashioned doll in a petite wooden high chair and tucked her under the tree. Nestled nearby was a new pull-sled for hauling baby and groceries which was a welcome gift in the snowy western-Massachusetts hill town where we lived. There were also muffins for breakfast, orange juice and the aforementioned wood for burning. Mom didn't stay long and we didn't talk much as we worked - she had to come back the next morning for the great Baby's First Christmas unveiling, which would not be an easy maneuver for her. I do remember she held me in her arms before she slipped back out to the garage. I recall she looked deep into my eyes with a smile that said, "You can do this". But it wasn't until I watched her snow-covered car disappear down the long driveway at nearly midnight that I realized her visit wasn't to deliver presents and goodies - she came because she didn't want me to feel alone. And now, years and years later, I have also realized that on that dark first Christmas Eve alone, she gave me a gift that has stood the test of time...courage for the future. And for a woman who excels at finding the perfect Christmas gift, it is still the best she ever gave.