So this is Christmas and what have you done?
Another year has passed, a new year has begun.
And this is Christmas, I hope you have a good time,
Near and dear ones
Old and young people
A very merry Christmas
And Happy New Year,
Let’s hope it’s a good thing
– John Lennon from “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”
I wish, Johnny. Peace on Earth, at least for a day. We may be caught in the deadly encirclement of a worldwide pandemic and our democracy may be teetering on the edge of an abyss born of autocracy and mercenary but if ever we If we can forget all that for 24 lucky hours, it’s Christmas. Day.
Christmas, the time when believers celebrate the birth of Christ. For others, it might be Solstice and the age-old promise that days will be longer. It’s a time to gather with family and friends, to celebrate and to give and receive gifts from the heart.
Our son, Michael, is with us again this year and for that, Deborah and I are grateful. My daughter, grandson and the rest of my family are healthy and my 92-year-old mother is strong.
Happy as today can be, last night bitter-sweet. For nearly 20 years, until her death, eight years ago, Deb, Michael and I, spent every Christmas Eve with Deb’s mother, the inimitable Joan Howe.
Michael was born five years after Debbie and I moved to California and a few years later Joan left Big Rapids and moved with us to Wine Country to be near him. We were living among the redwoods outside Healdsburg and she secured an apartment in nearby Santa Rosa.
When I was at Trident and Deb worked at Evan’s Design, Joan would keep an eye on Michael. The two of them had a prom. Sometimes Michael would spend the night. When we asked him the next day what he and she had done the night before, Michael, would tell us, accompanied by great laughter, “We stayed up late and ate food. snacks!” That’s their answer all the time.
Shortly after we moved back to Michigan and bought the famous Hardway Baling company, Grandma (always Grandma, never Grandma) followed us back and moved into an apartment in Remus.
Christmas Eve with grandma comes again.
My mother-in-law, Joan, is many things – a mother, a grandmother, a bartender (at Miami Beach, Lansing, Big Rapids and Santa Rosa pubs), a landscape artist and a poet.
I miss her late-night poetry calls.
“Donny? Listen. I call this White Light.
I hear a single silent note
Still hanging in the air
And a choir without a voice
“Back? Come back to where?”
“That’s great, Mom.”
Joan was in her late 70s when my wife opened the antique store, Maple Tree Cottage, but she spent the long, hot summer days crouching, planting hundreds of perennials— crocus, daffodils, irises and tulips. The construction of her crown is a series of imitation stone walkways that she places around the house, made from rectangular weathered concrete slabs, gleaned from poured cellars. She will attack hard soil with a long-handled ax, cutting trenches, trenches, and steps.
The area we live in is full of family farms and on weekends Joan sends me out to collect silos.
“Sorry. Do you want the cement to break out of your barn?”
Of all the things Joan is, what she isn’t. . . is a chef. However, on Christmas Eve, one night, she was there. Every year, Debbie, Michael, and I join her for a roast beef dinner, which includes green salad, chickpeas, mashed potatoes, and gravy, followed by a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Then we would sit by her glittering Christmas tree and open our presents. Joan wasn’t a rich woman, but throughout the year she bought pretty little things she thought we liked, until we each received half a dozen presents to open.
In all those years, Christmas Eve meant dinner with grandma. We miss her very much. Christmas Eve will never be the same.
And so it went.
https://www.themorningsun.com/2021/12/25/column-through-the-past-brightly-20/ Column: Through the bright past