My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

Beth Kaplan logo

Christmas memories

The Christmas sads have hit. I opened the big Xmas box today. No real tree again this year, since the kids have two at Anna’s, the big one in the living room and a small one in their room. Here, a tiny Ikea tree I bought for Auntie Do and took back after she died. I’ve decorated it and strewn some lights around, and listened to Eleanor while I wrapped. 

At the bottom of the box, I found the pile of handmade Christmas decorations with poems on them that Patsy sent every year, and I am weeping. Did I ever truly appreciate how original and beautiful and thoughtful they are, some with leaves or flowers, or shaped like stars, or including an eggnog recipe? There are eighteen of them, all different, funny, haunting. She sent them to all her good friends; by sheer coincidence, David Ferry just emailed me with a picture of Patsy’s decorations on his tree. 

She died by MAID in May 2021, after a few years with increasingly invasive ALS. Last year was the first year without a decoration from Patsy, and now will be the second. 

I’m going to find a way to put all her poems on display, to remind us how lucky we were that she loved us.

                                                O

                                         Christmas

                                            cards

                                    here you come again

                                        resurrected

                                   from the recycling bin

                                to decorate our living rooms

                                  like flocks of small birds

                                that flit and light and swoop

                                    among the winter trees

                            irrepressibly alive and full of cheer

                        such fragile wings to carry so much love

                                            welcome 

                                               back

There are also notes from me through the years, trying to hang onto the day. Xmas 86, Sam, who was two, pulled all the decorations he could reach off the tree; Anna got a purple unicorn. My parents and Uncle Edgar were here. Dad died two years later, my uncle in 1997, Mum on Christmas day, 2012. 

In 1992, a note from Sam, now a child of divorce: Dear Santa, I hope you have lots of fun. Please remember to come to my dad’s house. Love Sam and Anna. PS They are for you. (a picture of cookies and milk.) 

I think I’ve posted before, but here it is again, a note that year from Anna, who was eleven: Dear Santa: Hope you like Coke and Oreos and bananas. The clementines and apples are for your reindeer, the one extra is for your wife. I hope that as you make presents for the children, you don’t forget your wife. If you don’t have anything, you can give my present to her. Do you feel as I do that Christmas is becoming more and more commercialized, even your self.  Love, from Anna Dobie. PS I still believe in you. 

Is there any surprise she grew up to be a social justice warrior? The joy is that Santa wrote back, in her dad’s handwriting, saying that oranges do not agree with the deer and not to worry about Mrs. Claus. Christmas is never too commercialized with wonderful caring people in the world like you. Love, Santa

2016, Wayson was with us, as latterly he often was. The other day I saw someone who looked like him and bent over, stabbed with the sharpest of heart pains. He died in 2019. That year, I wrote, Ben, forbidden to touch the hot oven, going over repeatedly to touch it, looking at us with a big smile. 

Another warrior of a different kind. Also no surprise there.

So a few tears, and now, onward. We were expecting a huge snowstorm that didn’t come, at least not yet. Unlike much of our battered world, I and all my loved ones, family and friends, are warm and dry. We are relatively safe, though of course danger, of one kind or another, is always around the corner. 

Peace on earth. Let’s dream and hold up a light against the dark. As Patsy did. 

Share

Share
Tweet
Share
Pin

2 Responses to “Christmas memories”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sending you the very best of Christmases wishes for all of us, warriors, lovers, the lost, those who have gone to spirit (but who remind us of their presence still in our lives), and every green branch we bring in to take us from the old year to the new.
    Love,
    Theresa

  2. beth says:

    With greatest love back to you and yours, Theresa, as we accompany each other through the years with the gift of words.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

Archives

Coming soon

A new book by Beth Kaplan, published by Mosaic Press – “Midlife Solo”

Join the mailing list to stay up to date on this and other exciting news.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.