Saturday, December 22, 2007

A bittersweet Christmas

On Christmas Eve, my husband and I leave for St. Louis to visit my mother. After my father died this past April, my parents' home was sold and Mom moved into an assisted living center. I never liked the house very much - it was a small brick home among nearly identical brick homes in a subdivision built post-WWII - and I resented the fact that we had the means to have a bigger home. But now it hits me that there's no home to which I can go.

When I call the assisted living center to inquire about Mom, the staff always tries to put the best spin on things. It was my Christmas wish to give her a night at the hotel, in a handicapped-accessible room, away from the center. Now I discover she's on oxygen all the time, and it would take 3-4 small tanks (each lasts for about 4 hours) to get her through the night. It doesn't seem likely that I'll be able to realize my wish. My husband and the woman I see for counseling advise me to take things one at a time.

Sometimes, I think that the Christmas spirit quite eludes me. I do derive comfort from listening to my favorite Christmas CDs - Handel's Messiah, Bach's Christmas Oratorio, and 'Twas on a Night Like This by folk performers Cathy Barton, Dave Para, and the Paton family. The last introduced me to the song In the Bleak Midwinter, which suits the rather somber mood in which I find myself. A Hallmark Christmas CD featuring contemporary Christian singer Sandi Patti would round this collection out, but it's probably in a box somewhere.

Christmas lights bring cheer, although my husband thinks that they are a big waste of energy. I like gaudy displays, but I found two elegant displays on my drive from Fauquier County to Fairfax County late this afternoon. One farm in Fauquier County had white lights along the enclosure fences all the way from the house on the hill to the road. Merrifield Garden Center on Hwy 29 had white lights tightly wrapped all around the tree trunks and branches. For a gaudy display, check out the house next to the shopping center on Nutley Street and 123 in Vienna before it's too late!

Another activity that has brought comfort is the Loving Hearts ministry of the church to which I belong. We send cards and make phone calls to people who are in need of comfort. I benefited from Loving Hearts after my father died. I began getting cards from people I didn't know. I was able to connect them to my church, but honestly, I couldn't connect names with faces. The care I received was gratifying, and I decided to volunteer this year.

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