I’ve been trying to figure out the last time we were all together for Christmas. Is it possible it was 1983? It seems so strange to me that such a thing could be true. Christmas has always seemed like a really important day for my family. I guess after Daddy died that was bound to change. Maybe I was too young when it happened to realize just how much.
This Christmas, when I started counting, I also realized that it has been over a year since I have seen two of my three brothers. So…in the spirit of the father we all loved, in our own ways, who loved Christmas so much, and who loved our little group about as much as a person can love anything, I send my brothers a remote visit home for Christmas. I hope you guys enjoy it.
I begin with sunset on one of the shortest days of the year. It was crazy warm outside when I took this. The air was sweet with pine smoke. I thought it might be a nice way to start this e-card and letter.
You’ll notice there aren’t a bunch of presents under the tree. For me, the tree is the point. It’s the things that brings back the long ago. We do have a couple of things hidden behind it, and we’re looking forward to opening those. Underneath the tree we have a train. We actually have two—one is mine I bought a few years ago, and the other is Brian’s old one. I thought if he found out I was setting up his train under the tree he would come home to reclaim it, or at least to see it. It’s a little tricky to get running. It’s no spring chicken, but we have it out anyway.
We also have a couple of other little trees. There’s one called the “angel tree.” All its ornaments are either bells or angels. I just leave it decorated, so when Christmas comes I unzip a bag and plug it in. It may need refurbishing soon. Even it is getting long in the tooth, and I’m not sure any of my brothers has seen it. We also have a tiny tree in mom’s bathroom, one in the kitchen, and one Charlie Brown type tree in one of the upstairs windows.
Mother’s favorite decoration for Christmas is the Nativity Scene. You’ll recognize the one that gets the greatest place of honor. Anyway, a few years back, Mother decided to start collecting these little scenes. I’m sure it has something to do with how much the very first one means to her.
This year we have the added blessing of having Orson and Ruth here until nearly Christmas. They live just a couple of blocks away, and Orson is a really good sport. He’s always up for an adventure or a trip to the hardware store for wood pellets. At eighty-six, Mother likes a ROARING fire. She will often put her chair directly in front of the stove and put her coffee cup on the top of the stove. We go through plenty of pellets, but I think she enjoys the bath of warm air flowing over her. On Sunday evenings we usually have popcorn and a glass of milk for supper and she watches 60 Minutes.
On Christmas Eve I’ll make fish. This year it will either be tuna steaks or salmon, depending on what looks fresh in the store. Christmas Day mother has developed a tradition of making Cornish game hens, which she calls “little chickens.”
Usually the day after Christmas I’m ready to put everything back to the way it was. I have gotten into the habit of decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, but this year I was a little late getting Christmas up, and in early January we’re hosting a breakfast for Mother’s Sunday School class, so we’ll leave it all twinkling until that party is over.
I miss you guys. Mother hasn’t said much about missing you to me because she knows I feel lousy about it. I’m sorry we haven’t seen each other in such a long time, and I’m sorry it looks like it’s going to be a little longer before we do. It’s a project to travel these days, and it’s hard on both Mother and me, and that’s why I understand it’s hard on you all to try and get here.
Sometimes I dream of a place in the Sacramento Mountains, a place big enough to keep Heather and Brian busy with their natural products farm, a place with a big guest house where John and Carolyn can come, and Dean and Carrie and family can come, a place where we all can share some time together. I wish talking on the phone weren’t pure torture for me. I wish I wasn’t tied wrist and ankle to my job. I wish my dear brothers a Merry Christmas.