This week starts the long (but not very) slide into Christmas. The newspapers are heavy with ads and many trees have been sacrificed -- we recycle the papers and ads, but still...
I'm not ready for all that yet. We'll get a tree and do some decorating, but not just yet. Shopping will be minimal -- my brother and the girls won't be with us this year, so I'll send boxes, but mostly it'll be gift cards, I suspect. I'm not ready for carols, either. Check back with me on Friday, Dec. 1. Maybe then.
Holidays are hard when you're changing traditions, and any death necessitates an adjustment in thinking. This will be the second since Mother died, the eighth since Daddy. We were in Springfield since 1997, but before that were always with my parents, my daughter, and nearly always with my brother. It's different now that there is no reason to go to Missouri, and everyone lives so far away that it's not easy for them to come here, or too expensive at this time of year, or too busy. It just IS what it is.
I'm finding the ramp-up to Christmas a little difficult already: I'm getting tons of catalogs in the mail, and I see things Momma would have liked in many of them. When we bring out the decorations, the stockings she knitted for all of us will be in that box. Her handwritten recipes are ones I use often at Christmas.
I can't bring myself just yet to get an artificial tree -- even though the piney smell is not as strong with the trees here, it is still there, and I can close my eyes and remember how Daddy and I always put lights on while Mother watched and directed. It conjures memories from very long ago Christmases, like the one when I was six where I faked sleep when Daddy came in to check us (although I did fall asleep pretending to be asleep). Or the one when I got up at 2 a.m. to find my new bicycle under the tree, and Mother made me go back to bed.
I love tangerines. When we were kids, there always was a tangerine in the toe of our stockings, along with hard Christmas candies that would stick to the wool, and sometimes when we'd pull them out of the Christmas barrel, there would be one sticky old candy from the previous year clinging to the inside of the stocking. I can breathe in the scent of tangerine and be a little girl again, for a moment. And I love the sweet bite of the juice when I've peeled the little orbs and popped the first segment into my mouth, spitting seeds into my hand. I confess that my favorites now are Clementines, those tiny orange *seedless* globes that are so easy to peel and eat.
I'll get there. It's not December just yet, and I still have a few days left to find this year's path to Christmas, and to begin to figure out what new things to add as I say goodbye to the old ones.