Though my mother loved Christmas decorations and the legend of Santa Claus, she was clear with her children about the true meaning of Christmas. The holiday would not pass without the telling of the holy story.
That brings me to my favorite childhood Christmas memory of all.
One of the words I use to describe my mother is resourceful. She used what she had to run our household, and she made sure that we children did the same. Money was scarce, and we didn’t ask for much. Perhaps that is what made Christmas so special for us. After a full year of not asking, we received something.
Here’s one of my favorite childhood Christmas memories.
We had finished all preparations for Christmas Day: a decorated house, a trimmed tree, a Nativity scene, and a plate of cookies for Santa. The only thing left was a good night’s sleep with dreams of what we might find under the tree.
There were three bedrooms in our house: one for Mom and Dad, one for the three boys, and one for the three girls. Mom and Dad’s room was closest to the living room; then came the boys’ room; and finally, the girls’ room was in the back.
It was not easy for six Christmas-giddy kids to do, but when Mom yelled that it was time for bed, we obeyed.
As I was sorting through storage boxes last weekend, I was surprised to find the pages of the remarks I made at my mother’s memorial service. She died 22 years ago today (November 5), and the service was held a week later. Mom had requested that each of her children prepare something to read at the service. Though we had been far from her heart and life for decades, our mother still expected her children to honor her at her death. Some of us did. Of her six children, my brother Norman, sister Sandra, and I attended her memorial service and shared our words.
The cool evenings of fall always bring out my desire for lingering in the kitchen, after a summer of quickly-prepped meals to avoid the heat. Recently, I decided to have spaghetti, and as I cooked up a batch for dinner, memories of my mother and her creative cooking came to mind.
Creative, not in how she cooked, but how she stretched what she cooked.
School Picture Day is the annual Fall occurrence of best wear and toothy smiles in schools across the country. My school’s Picture Day happens next week, and the event is stirring up fond memories of my mother preparing her children for that day.
Other than Easter Sunday, the Lowe Kids never looked better during our elementary school grades than we did on Picture Day. Mom would make sure we were wearing our neatest and nicest. And on the evening before the day, she would “press” the girls’ hair with the hot comb and use foam curlers to set the curls overnight. When we left for school, Mom had her little girls ready to stand before the camera, with a send-off of “Don’t let that cameraman touch your hair!”
During my childhood, it got to the point where my sweet relationship with my mother was broken due to her bad choices. I never stopped loving her, but, unfortunately, things with us were never again the same. She died 22 years ago, shortly after her 68th birthday (September 20). Questions I had for her were never answered. Apologies I craved from her were never received.
As I drove through one of my childhood neighborhoods, I was surprised to find Hoit Gardens only four blocks from Milpas Street, the main street on the east side of my hometown. As a child, I thought it took for-e-ver to walk to Milpas from our house.
Driving those few blocks brought back a poignant memory.
The United States celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. That’s this weekend, and it’s a perfect theme for this month’s Story of the Month.
While researching the Great Depression (1929-1940) for one of my stories, I found this photo and it is an amazing one. The joy this woman shows, despite her poverty, is the perfect picture of motherly love.
Inspired by the photo, I imagined myself sitting with this woman to learn about her typical day.