Well folks, here it is again, the last day of November and you know what that means, right? It means I cannot deny it any longer. Christmas is on it's way and I need to get in a holiday frame of mind.
Longs of time ago, when my Mom was still around, she received in the mail on a regular basis a zillion or so magazines. I think she just couldn't say no to the little faces that came to her door selling subscriptions trying to raise money for their school band or French class or baseball team or whatever. Rarely did a week pass without her fishing at least one magazine out of her mail box. At any rate, back in the day, she actually read or at least thumbed though all of those magazines.
I know this for a fact because by the time the magazines had been read by her, my sister and her daughters, it finally came to me. Originally Mother handed the magazines directly to me during our weekly visits. Later when we lived states apart, the magazines arrived in my mailbox in a manila envelope. The pages were creased and sometimes crumpled with various corners folded down having marked someone's place, there were cookie crumbs in the Vee between the pages and sometimes a wrinkled bit that probably was a bit of water or tea spilled on a page and then dried. But most telling were the underlines, the highlighted paragraphs, the missing pages or parts of pages where something had been cut out and the notes written in the margins. That was my favourite part.
And of course, the Christmas issues of all these magazines was my absolute favourite. I loved it all, the recipes, the heart warming stories, the fashion advice and decorating tips and even the ads helped put me into a ho ho ho sort of mood.
I cherished this connection that I had between these women that I loved so much and me. My mother's writing was singular. Nearly illegible, it would take several people and a considerable amount of time and thought to decipher what she had written. The underlined and highlighted parts should have been self-evident but I did occasionally question their significance. The parts cut out always left me wondering who had custody. The point is, I thought about the others who had read, perhaps over tea and cookies, the pages before me and felt their presence with me. Since we lived so far part, it was lovely to feel them near.
As the years passed, the magazines continued to arrive, but as time went by they became less and less handled, far fewer margin notes, not so many crumbs, hardly any stains and with most pages intact. By then, my sister and her daughters were no longer living nearby and they were so busy, they had no time to read those magazines. And then eventually, as she became more ill, even my mother didn't read them. They still showed up in my mailbox, but pristine. Not a single note, not the tiniest crumb, no sign that anyone at all had every read it, not even my mother. And then of course, the day finally came when she was gone. No more magazines ever arrived in my mailbox.
The Christmas after my mother passed away, I was a little mopey. Yes I knew that first anniversary of her death was coming up in January and I expected it to be hard, and it was, but mostly I was having a difficult time getting into a Holiday mental and emotional state. Everything was an effort. I just couldn't seem to kickstart my usual elf-like Christmas attitude. I faked it as best I could and I think I convinced a lot of people but I wasn't buying it. Then a few weeks before Christmas Day, Tim and I were out doing a little grocery shopping. While we were standing in line at the checkout, I was idly perusing the magazines rack. There was a Ladies Home Journal Christmas issue right in front of me. I picked it up and thumbed through it smiling all the while. Tim, bless his heart, is an observant man. He plucked the magazine from my hand and put it on the conveyor with our other purchases. When he saw my smile, he turned around and picked up every single Christmas issue magazine on the rack and bought them for me as well.
Now I just go ahead and do it for myself. It's my gift to me. It's the only time in the entire year that I buy magazines. But I enjoy reading them, looking at the photos and checking out the recipes, fashion advice and decorating tips, just like the old days. Sometimes I don't finish reading them until March, but read them I do. And then I remember what it used to be like with the highlighted parts, the cookie crumbs, the tea stains, the unreadable notes in the margin and the bits cut out. And that is the Best part of all.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.