Christmas is finally over.
Ordinarily, I love every single moment of the Christmas season. It is my favorite season of the entire year and I anticipate it for months in advance. I relish in choosing the perfect gifts for each person, in going to the Christmas parties and hearing the joyful sounds of Christmas carols.
That something, is my mom. I miss my mom. In years past, we spent our baking days together, listening to Christmas music while we worked. We always went shopping together, whether it was to shop for the kids or shop for my dad or to pick out presents for other people on our list. Mom loved it when we came to her ward's Christmas party at church. It's always been important to my parents to have all the grandkids together for those kinds of parties and keep our family traditions intact.
As the season wore on, mom seemed disconnected from all the festivities surrounding her. She did not go the Christmas parties at church. She couldn't remember what any of our Christmas goodies were, let alone help bake them. She didn't know who Santa was. She seemed confused on what many of the festivities were about. Aside from the shopping trip to Kmart for my dad, she didn't engage or even attempt to engage in any Christmas shopping. My siblings and I coordinated all of the Christmas meals without any interest or input from my mom (she was just happy that I had assigned her to bring the broccoli-cauliflower salad for Christmas Eve).
"No I didn't know about that."
"Mom, this is the Christmas breakfast that your mom created. We've eaten it every year, you always loved it! Christmas isn't Christmas without it!"
"No I didn't remember about that. I already drank my Slim Fast," she said, as she walked out of the kitchen.
It was the expected response, but still disheartening to say the least. If she's forgotten the traditions of the holiday that we've held so near and dear all these years, who is to say she will even remember the holiday itself next year?
In the past, mom always got giddy at present time. She absolutely loved to pass out presents to her grandkids and delighted in their reactions to what she had picked out for them. This time, mom sat on the couch, staring straight ahead with a blank look on her face. She showed no reaction and no emotion as we each took our turns opening presents. At one point, my niece went up to her to give her a hug and say thank you for the present. Mom had very little response; she didn't hug her back and seemed confused as to why she was hugging her and what she was saying to her.
"Thanks dear. I need this."
Mom sat slightly forward in her seat on the couch and, waving her finger towards the laundry soap, told him very seriously,
"Yeah, that's why I got you that, yeah. I know you like that."
"Perfect. Absolutely perfect," dad said, trying to contain the chuckles.
For as long as I can remember, my dad has always filled out his gift tags to mom using pet names. In fact, they both did it. They would write things such as: "To Mrs. Claus, from Mr. Claus" or "To Dee, From Guess Who" or "To Toots, From Sancho" (don't know if I spelled Toots right). I always thought it was cute that they "spiced" it up and made it fun. This year, mom was confused with the tags on the gifts dad gave.
"Huh? What do you mean, Guess Who? What? Who is this for? Why does it say this, Guess Who?" or "Toots, what? I don't know what this means."
When she opened her gifts, she wasn't overly excited and she was sometimes a bit confused at what she was receiving. I had to explain to her several times that the skirts she opened from me were made by me, as she's been hounding me for months about making her skirts,
"I don't know why you won't ever make me any skirts, you're so talented. I wish you would make me some skirts."
She seemed to like the skirts, though she wasn't overly enthusiastic as she has been in years past.
By the time the rest of the extended family showed up (near 1:00), mom was ready for a nap. She was concerned about people coming over during naptime, but dad kept reiterating that it was Christmas and that people would be over to celebrate. That's what we do for holidays. She went back to her room alone, making no exception for the holiday.
I don't know what the future holds; will we be able to have large gatherings next year? Only time will tell. Based on her detachment and disinterest this year, my guess is that by next year, the holidays will be meaningless to her. I look ahead to next Christmas with dread. I don't know how we will make it through. As sad and disheartening as it was for our family this year, I know the road ahead will only get rougher. I suppose my goal for the New Year is to figure out how to cope and manage the despair that comes with losing a loved one.