When I was young girl, the holidays were always an amazing, almost magical time for me. The precursor to the holiday season seemed to be when my mom took her "half dozen" to Sears or JCPenney for back to school shopping. In the northeast, (Sewickley, Pennsylvania to be exact) the school year always started right after Labor Day.
So from the time the first school bell rang--signaling students back to the classroom, my mom turned her attention to decorating the house for fall! That generally meant she would bring out all of the ceramic items she made during her clay/glaze phase. I miss those fall leaf candy dishes she had in varying sizes. But for me the best part of autumn was that Halloween was right around the corner. Halloween was always incredible, because she would conjure up an incredible "one of a kind" costume for her kids. The first real costume I remember my mom created specifically for me was the "Gypsy" outfit. I think I loved the silk scarf and all of the bracelets she let me wear...I remember even winning a Girls Scout costume contest for it that year. We were Hobos, Hippies, Pirates...but one of the funniest costumes she made was the one she made for my younger brothers. My mom took felt fabric, cut it into a toga, and made the bottom of the piece jagged. Then she proceeded to cut many green garbage bags into an ellipse shape. Then starting from the bottom of this green felt toga looking frock she proceeded to staple these oval plastic green garbage bag "leaves" onto the entire garment, in rows, overlapping one on top of another. Once the entire piece was covered in "leaves" she started another one, but this time the toga smaller...she was creating the beginnings of the cutest stinkin' custom for Craig and Brian--they went trick-or-treating as the Jolly Green Giant and the Little Green Sprout!
We moved through the Thanksgiving holidays, (which I will share at another time)--just in time for one of the most cherished Official Days Off from School which was just days following Thanksgiving...
Then Christmas Season was upon us. Once again, my mom would bring out the boxes from the basement that held her ceramic poinsettia candy dishes, Santa, all which announced the Yuletide Season.
She would also make a paper banner that read, "Happy Birthday Jesus".
One of her favorite pieces she made in ceramics for Christmas was the green "light bright" ceramic Christmas tree. You know this type of Christmas tree--it's hollow and had a base that a light bulb would occupy. This glazed beauty also had holes scattered all over it in order to insert the multi-colored plastic pegs, so when illuminated looked like a lighted Christmas tree--my Dad still has this Christmas treasure!
As a young mom, I shared with my mom how I loved to look just look at the lighted Christmas tree in the still of the night. She shared how she would do the same, especially Christmas Eve--after Santa visited. She would gaze at the packages, mentally checking to ensure each of her children had the EXACT same number of packages. She would marvel at the work that went into Christmas Morning...and try to savor every moment. Because once her half dozen awoke...Christmas magic and surprises were over within minutes of tearing into the piles of gifts carefully arranged for each child.
Christmas cookie baking, tree ornament making, the Nativity set, Midnight Mass and early morning breakfast following Mass, champagne...are wonderful memories and traditions that can flood back to me instantly with just the smell of evergreen or the sound of Bing Crosby singing, "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
Memory making, time honored traditions, sights, sounds and even great smells of my youth...I take with me always and I thank my mom, my sweet, sweet mom for these things I cherish in my heart.
I Carry Your Heart With Me
by E. E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
I miss you mom!
I Lasso the wonderful memories I have of my terrific mom!