This more I decorate this year, and the more memories that I share from Christmases past, the more I realize how important my mom has been to the holiday.
She always made sure our home was festive, and warm, and that it was full of family and friends. Santa was always overly generous, and there was always lots of laughter, and kolaches on Christmas morning. And it was always just the three of us, Mom, Dad and Me.
When my mom retired, she made the decision that she would come and live with us, as she had lived by herself in North Hollywood, where I grew up, since my dad passed a decade earlier. When she decided to live with us, we built a guest house in the back yard for her, with all the amenities of a house, just smaller!
It was so wonderful to have grandma in the backyard! I sometimes regret that I didn't really appreciate what a blessed time that was. Especially now when some can't see their parents because of the pandemic, to think...we were able to see grandma every day! She helped me raise my daughters, she babysat them on countless occasions, ferried them to and from school, and after school activities, spoiled them mightily, and made it possible for Robert and I to work full time and still spend lots of time with our gorgeous girls.
On Christmas Eve, when we would have our annual Christmas Eve Party, she would always help me plan and cook the meal. We were a great team and I looked forward to our time in the kitchen together. The most memorable part of Christmas Eve for many of my guests, though, was the desserts -- and that's because the desserts were always in Grandma's house! My mom would deck out her house with Christmas cheer, and then put on a huge Christmas dessert spread, with trifle, cookies, pies, cakes, candies -- everything you can imagine. And all of our guests -- which sometimes numbered over 50, would cram into her little house, and only then did it feel like Christmas was complete.
It took a while to get used to Christmas without her. Mom passed 12 days after the towers fell on 9/11 in 2001. It's hard to believe that it was 20 years ago. She was a bright spirit until the end, though, ALS eventually took away her ability to speak.
While I feel blessed for the new additions to my family this year, today I am especially grateful for mom my who set the standard for Christmas cheer, and who would be so happy to see all those fabulous stockings still on the mantle! What a beautiful Christmas legacy she left us.