Although Mom never really liked Christmas, she always made sure to make it special for Kari and me. She started baking Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving, so the whole house was filled with the sounds and smells of the Holiday spirit for a whole month. We listened to Christmas music, helped put tinsel on the tree, and watched as Mom decorated every part of the house. To this day, I still love Christmas, and that is probably due to all the effort Mom put into it each year.
One year was especially significant, however, and one the whole family regards as the best Christmas ever. It was the year I was 14, and Mom decided to do something completely different that year. She and Dad rented a cabin in Idyllwild so that we could spend the Holiday away from all the usual hustle and bustle.
Actually, with all the planning, prepping and packing that Mom had to do, it was probably a lot more work than she expected, but Mom was excited about the trip, and to see Mom excited at Christmas was fun for everyone. Of course, Mom had thought of everything. Besides the food and presents, we also had a Christmas Tree, decorations, plenty of blankets and snugglies, and of course, games. No trip would be complete without games!
After we were unpacked and wrapped in blankets by the fire, Mom thought it was the perfect time to give herself a manicure. Yes, she even brought the fake nails and polish to the cabin. Kari and I played games together while Mom sat still with her nails drying. After I was sure they had dried long enough, I said, “Mom, let’s play Spades.”
This was one of our family’s favorite card games, and Mom loved playing cards (still does), so I was surprised when she said, “Oh, I think I’ll just sit here and watch you play.” I was immediately suspicious, and Mom had an odd expression on her face, like she was trying to hide something.
“What did you do?” I asked. Mom was sitting too still. Her hand hadn’t moved from its spot on the end table. And then I knew. “Did you glue your finger to the table?”
“How did you know?” She sheepishly replied.
Dad was already up and ready to come to the rescue. “Oh, Honey,” he said shaking his head. He tried pulling her finger up, but it was definitely stuck.
Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out his Swiss Army knife.
“Are you going to cut it off?” Mom asked jokingly.
“That’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Dad replied very matter-of-factly. “We can’t cut the table because it isn’t ours.”
We all thought he was joking, but then he really did put the knife to Mom’s finger. Very carefully, he wedged the knife under her finger and began slicing, filleting the skin right off. When he was finished, Mom had her finger back, minus a thin layer of skin, which left a perfect fingerprint on the table.
Relieved to see that Mom was no longer in danger, Kari and I burst out laughing. No trip would be complete without Mom doing something very silly!
Christmas morning arrived and that meant presents. I love presents. I get so excited for others to open what I have given them. And this year was no exception. Knowing that Mom was planning a special Christmas, I wanted to make sure I could do something special for her, too. I used to like to write poetry. It was all pretty corny and not very good, but Mom always made a big deal out of my poems, and liked them all. There was one I had written about her, however, which was especially meaningful to her. I had gone through a lot of effort and sneakiness to have that poem engraved on a plaque for her. I knew she would love it, and I couldn’t wait for her to open her gift.
Her reaction was even better than I had hoped for. As soon as she saw what it was, tears began to stream down her cheeks. “Kim,” she sobbed, “I can’t believe it!” I was so thrilled by her genuine pleasure at the gift, that I started crying, too.
Later, as we sipped hot chocolate and watched the snow fall outside, I thought about what a perfect Christmas this had been. There had been snow to play in, lots of good food (including cookies), games, love, tears, and of course, laughter.
Tears of Joy
Mom loved her plaque
Grandma, Kari, Mom, Me, and Dad in Idyllwild 1982