My mom shoots a look behind us as the sound of Christmas music blares from right on our heels. “Thats me. Its my purse,” a woman offers. “It helps keep my cheer up while on my lunch break,” she doesn’t smile. We both turn back to the cashier and complete our transaction.
Its not a mystery how Christmas snuck up on us. Its just hard to be cheery when your last grandparent is laying in a hospital bed, no longer eating or drinking, no longer recognizing anyone. Its hard to be cheery when you’ve just celebrated the life of a 32 year old woman whose hand you held at her wedding, and then she was gone 12 hours later. Its hard to be cheery when you’re making follow up appointments to address your own cancer scare.
The mall is tedious and full of people. Its lunchtime on a Tuesday and I’m not sure why they’re all at the mall. The presents for friends are easy. The presents for pets are the easiest. We get those all done before noon. Its the presents for the family that are the challenging ones. We walk thru the mall, eventually stopping to get underwear for my dad, and plain tank tops for myself. We stop at the center stand to get Summer Sausage. What do you get when no one really wants anything.
I’d noticed the Christmas decoration boxes upstairs. Out and open, but not unpacked. No Christmas lights along the roof, no stuffed Santas, or holiday table runners. Just the small set of bells on a bow, around my kitten’s neck. Tiny jingling as she trails around underfoot.
This year proved challenging for all of us. Externally, as well as internally. With a heart attack and a triple bipass surgery. The loss of a well paying job. A serious job suspension, served twice. And a car that keeps dying despite multiple auto mechanics saying they can’t find anything wrong.
I suppose the holiday blessing isnt in the gifts or the decorations or the music played around every corner. The blessing is just us. We can all be together, happy (ish) and healthy.