I think now can be a tough time. It is one of those things that I struggle with on Christmas.
I think it started after that first year I did Christmas on my own. My parents were overseas, Josh had moved into the dorm, Jason was at State and I was about twenty-three years old with Slater at two. I was gonna do it like Mama did. That house was gonna be Christmasy. Decked out. Lit up. Smelling like baked apples and cinnamon.
Have you ever seen a Southern Living magazine? Like that.
First I needed a tree 'cause I had a window for it so I went and bought an expensive live one from Canada maybe that cost me at least $85. No, I shouldn't have bought an $85 tree 'cause I was only making about $28,000 at that time working two jobs. And I had a boy to raise but I guess I felt like that was part of raising him.
Ya' know, throwing a big party for Jesus' birthday where the whole world would be the guests and we would have to buy presents for everyone and decorate our houses lavishly and gorge like hogs on foods we didn't let ourselves eat all year.
But then, I guess, one year 'bout five ago I decided the most important thing about Christmas was giving. Not necessarily presents but time as well. It is huddling up in the cold, rubbing your best friends' backs, smiling at each other, having dinner (sorry I cancelled last weekend, girls), sending an old friend a gift through the postal service.
It is a Merry Christmas and an extra big smile to the clerk at the store.
It is red and white and green.
It is coats and gloves and scarves. Rubbing your hands together to generate heat.
It is spending time in your life around people you love.
It is having your boy home.
It is Granny.
Not only is it Jesus' birthday but it's also Granny's birthday, and let me tell ya', my love of birthdays came from Granny. She celebrates another year and she looks great doing it too. Quite the beautiful woman with such excitement about life.
She has even more reason to celebrate this year. She had a tough year, some leg problems that turned her into something I'd never seen. That doctor gave her solitary confinement and she withered into quiet and recluse.
Until she fought back like Sarah Todd flies a plane. Like Woodstomp plays the blues. She fought and sang it and I saw her this past Thanksgiving. And. she. is. back.
She is shining.
Talking 'bout Patsy's kids. Shea, Jason and Josh.
And we're playing tricks on her, answering the phone in another voice like we're in character and then laughing with her 'cause she goes along. She is beautiful, radiant and this Christmas will also be a celebration that she's back.