Tag Archives: Mom

Home for Christmas

The windows were filled with the morning’s frost, and the red and green lights twinkled among the 20 year’s worth of handmade, grade school Christmas ornaments which filled our tree.  Not a creature was stirring……except my 28 year-old brother.

Well beyond the years when people begin to be jaded, Sean was still filled with Christmas Spirit, and I could always expect to be jostled awake at 5 a.m. to let me know that it was time to see the bounty which awaited us.  Or, time to wait until a somewhat reasonable hour to wake our parents.

With everyone moderately conscious, we would begin our Christmas tradition of taking turns opening gifts, my Mom telling us the story of how she got bought each one of those gifts (“I had to push a woman at Venture to get that He-Man figure.”), and my Dad cluelessly saying “You’re welcome” when we thanked him for gifts which he was obviously unaware that my mother had purchased.

Unlike my brother, I was always more than willing to sleep in late, since I had begun the process of finding hidden Christmas presents in Mid-August.  A cat and mouse between my mother and I.  She, always searching for new and unique ways to hide gifts, and me, always finding new and unique ways to locate them.  I went so far as lowering my little sister Megan into the narrow opening of a locked cabinet to retrieve gifts.  Things finally reached a tipping point when Mom hid a Nintendo NES in the home of our elderly neighbor, who then died shortly before the holidays.  My parents had to convince her next of kin that Ann was not, in fact, a big fan of Duck Hunt.

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Posing in front of the tree, and the world’s most uncomfortable orange love seat.

 

Sean had led me down the path to become North County’s most prolific Christmas gift spoiler when he fulfilled every big brother’s duty of ruining the mystery of Santa Claus.  I can still remember he and Jeff Lewis matter-of-factly letting me know that it was all a big lie as we strolled past the Electronics Department at Target.

With my world shattered, Sean and I began scouring the house for gifts.  But he never had the stomach for it.  When a previously discovered race car set was a no-show on Christmas morning, Sean caved almost immediately when our Mom simply said, “Looking for something?”  He would have never been cut out for a life of crime.

Our Mom always made Christmas special for us, and my Dad always let my Mom make Christmas special for us.  She took such joy in making us happy at Christmas, even when we didn’t make it too easy.

Like when my Dad had to hold my Mom back after I almost kicked the tree over because “Stupid Santa” brought me the Bat-Cycle instead of the Bat-Mobile, or when Sean launched a plastic Godzilla hand through a hand-painted Christmas ornament purchased on a trip to Frankenmuth,MI.

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Godzilla may have defeated Rodan, but he was no match for Eileen McMullin.

 

After, the wrapping paper had stopped flying, Sean would don whatever Generra sweatshirt or Swatch that my Mom had gotten for him and we would head to St. Martin’s for mass.  Our favorite Christmas homily remains Fr. Marty’s “Christmas is about the three F’s.  Food, family and fun.” sermon.  We really thought one of those F’s was bound to stand for Faith, but he really threw us a curveball.

Then, after a few more hours of enjoying our gifts or possibly napping, we would head to our Uncle Tom and Aunt Mary Lou’s house.  Even though I now realize that they lived maybe 30 minutes away, it seemed like it was the other side of the planet.  We would play, compare Christmas gift notes with our cousins and sit down for a fancy dinner.  Or at least my idea of fancy.  All of the plates, glasses and silverware matched!

Even though, at 43, I still don’t think I would have graduated from the kid’s table, I miss those days.  Falling asleep in the back seat on the way home as my Dad drove, and knowing that everything was right with the world.

This will be our first Christmas without Sean.  When I type those words, it still doesn’t feel real.

We all have our own families now, and we have created our own traditions, but the Original Five coming together has always been a part of that.

I take solace in the fact that the Christmas Spirit, which was so alive in Sean, lives in on in his children and all of his nieces and nephews.

I love you Sean.  You will always be home for Christmas in my heart.

jjj

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Mom wants to see you

As a kid, I used to always tell my Mom that I was never going to move away from her.  “I’m going to live with you forever,” I would say. 

And, deep down, I think there is a small part of her that wishes I was still under her roof.  Despite the fact that, like most kids, I was the worst possible roommate.  Never cleaning anything up or paying my share of the utilities.  Constantly asking for money or favors.  And feigning illness to get out of all manner of things. 

 Part of the irony of being a mom is that your kids don’t truly appreciate everything you did until they are on their own, or off starting their own families.  When they are sitting up with you when you get sick at two in the morning or driving you and your friends to the movies, you just think that is part of her job description. 

Unlike the moms of the June Cleaver era before me, my Mom worked for most of my childhood.  But while she might not have been there in pearls, with a big piece of chocolate cake waiting for me when I got home from school, she devoted all of her time off to me and my brother and sister. 

My Mom and her Mom.

 

Den mother, field trip chaperone, and unpaid sales rep for every calendar, raffle ticket and piece of candy that was pushed on me by my school.  My Mom held all of those positions and never complained once. 

My Mom and Dad worked very hard to make sure that we were always taken care of.  We may not have always got what we wanted, but we always had what we needed.  (And usually most of what we wanted)  There was not a Christmas that went by that my Mom did not elbow her way through an angry mob of moms (the worst kind) at 7 a.m. to make sure that we had that season’s big toy.  And despite an incident in which I may or may not have kicked the Christmas tree and verbally berated Santa, I now see that the Bat-cycle is just as good as the Batmobile. 

There was also never a summer in which she didn’t plan a road trip in whatever non-air conditioned vehicle we were driving in at the time.  From Disney World to the Tommy Bartlett Water Show in the Wisconsin Dells, I have seen it all.  And you have not really lived until you have seen a water ski show and water-cannon “Tribute to the Music of Elvis” while wearing a heavy fall jacket. 

My Mom is one of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever known and has always let me know how proud she is of me.   She has believed in me even when I haven’t given her much reason to do so.  As a “doesn’t live up to his potential” student, my Mom has sat through her share of parent/teacher meetings.  And even when Sister Christian (who was not nearly as cool or rockin’ as the Night Ranger song of the same name) let her have it in particularly brutal evaluation of me, she still knew that I could do better. 

While my Mom is sweet and a little innocent (so innocent that she only realized what the “doobie” in The Doobie Brothers meant about 5 years ago) she is also capable of giving  a look that can stop you in your tracks and chill you to the bone.  While it was mostly utilized for putting an end to horseplay, I believe that it’s use was briefly considered for putting an end to the Iran Hostage Crisis in the late seventies. 

My Mom purchased every sweater in this photo.

 

As I get older, it is hard to imagine that I was that little kid in the picture above.  But I know that there is someone out there, for whom I will always be her “little” boy.  And in a world that gets a little crazy sometimes, I could not dream of a more comforting feeling. 

I know that I can always count on my Mom, and someday I hope that I can follow her parental lead.  (I need to start working on my “look”) 

So, while I may not be able to live at home with her forever, I hope she knows that I will never be too far away. 

Happy birthday Mom.  I love you.

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