As my husband and I decorated our Christmas tree, my mind trailed off to past years, especially one particular Christmas with my mom. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this would be the last Christmas day that I ever remember spending with my mom. I was a young girl, maybe eight or nine years old, and living in a small house with my mom and her boyfriend. We didn’t have a lot, but that didn’t matter; my heart was ready to burst because I was with my mom for Christmas. I couldn’t remember any other Christmases with mom and I knew this would be a special one. My siblings were all living with different family members and I would not see them this year, but I was overjoyed to spend this Christmas with my mom.
On Christmas Eve mom’s boyfriend, John, brought a little Christmas tree home for us to decorate. He set up the tree and mom and I dug out some decorations from her closet. I was anxious to open the old yellowed boxes. They were filled with red and green shiny, glittery bulbs. Mom carefully attached the hooks through the loops and handed them to me to hang on the tree. After the bulbs were all on the tree, mom handed me a special decoration. It was a little elf with long red legs and a pointy hat. I loved it and hung it right in the front centre of the tree. Mom and I laughed together. I hardly ever heard mom laugh and I felt a catch in my throat as she put her arms around me. I was so happy I felt I was going to explode. I hoped I would be able to stay with mom forever.
While we were decorating the tree, mom kept looking out the front window onto the porch as if she was waiting for something. From my bedroom I heard her said to John, “It’s here.” I came out to see what it was. John was carrying in a basket filled with stuff. I could see what looked like a turkey on top. Mom quickly went through the basket while I watched. Then she handed me a wrapped present and asked me to put it under the tree. As I carried it I peeked at the name tag and it said “To: Barbara.” I was so excited. I asked mom if I could open it and she said not until morning. That evening mom and I sat on the sofa and watched Miracle on 34th Street. I loved spending time with mom, I felt so loved and special. After the movie, mom tucked me in bed and I eventually fell asleep.
The next morning, I ran into the living room and saw two more gifts. I woke up mom and she said I could open the gifts. I saved the biggest one for last. I tore open the wrapping and there was a beautiful walking doll! This was the best gift of all. Afterward, mom sat with me on the sofa and I placed the doll between us. Mom prepared a Christmas dinner with turkey, potatoes, and stuffing, my favorite. That evening as I said goodnight, I hugged mom tightly and whispered in her ear. “I love you mom, I had the best Christmas ever.” She looked into my eyes and I could see the tears filling her eyes as she hugged me closely. I wondered why she was crying.
That summer I was sent for a visit with friends of the family. It was supposed to be a two-week visit, but I ended up staying there for many years. I missed my mom every day, but especially at Christmas. As the years passed that one Christmas day with my mom will always be a magical memory for me.
Barbara Godin is a graduate of AU and writes the “Dear Barb” column. She lives in London, Ontario with her husband, and two dogs.