At this time of year, I am constantly reminded of my mother, Helen Owens Weissinger, for whom Christmas was more than a holiday, a shopping spree, a festive occasion, but was a potpourri of events and traditions encompassing months of planning and the execution of miracles.
She believed in the magic of Christmas, especially for children, and she labored most of the year to create the perfect Xmas-y atmosphere, wrap the perfect gift, fill her home with the scent of cookies baking, painting them as angels and snowmen and trees, amid piles of wrapped packages awaiting the appointed hour, and the astonishing array of ornaments and silvery balls glimmering, hanging from the ceiling, which thrilled and amazed all who stepped into her holiday lair.
She had a Christmas Club at the bank, depositing fifty cents or a dollar a week, so that by December she had a little saved up for presents. Mostly she sewed, doll clothes for the high-heel dolls - fur jackets and ball gowns - and she would repair old stuffed toys and fix them up new.
We'd go to center city Philadephia just to see the display of lights and maybe see Santa at Wanamaker's, stopping off for a visit to the automat at Horn & Hardarts before catching the Reading train home.
After retiring to Caribou, Maine, in the last decade of her life, she tried to keep up the energy to continue carrying on the soul of the season. Northern Maine obliged with annual snowfall in the hundreds of inches, and the flickering flames of the gas fireplace added ambiance.
This poem, Mom's Xmas in Maine, is taken verbatim from her card, sent to me one December day, many years ago. I saved it because it seems to capture her spirit; more than the glitter of tinsel, or the familiar ring of hymns and carols, it reminds me of the prettiest angel cookie you could hardly bring yourself to bite into, painted with golden hair and blue eyes - the snickerdoodle stocking-stuffer whopper of a Christmas morning she loved, and I just know that she is somewhere, happy it's that time of year again: jingle bell time, a swell time, Christmas. Thanks, Mom.
Mom's Xmas In Maine
I simply can't
get the pkgs. out in time,
they aren't even gift wrapped!
The house isn't decorated,
the tree's not up,
there are no drapes in the LR
and no blinds in my BR
(they're ordered but still haven't come.)
I have only 2 kinds of cookies made
& today I broke a big bowl in the kitchen
& pottery shattered everywhere,
& the cat's driving me insane!
My cleaning's done
& my cards are all sent.
Two neighbors brought me wreaths;
I hung one on the front door
& one on the window
(outside--it's real pine,
or fir, or balsam
I have 2 doctor appts. before Xmas
My BP is 200 over 95,
& I'm supposed to be having the dinner this year!
P.S. Don't cash this
till after Xmas.
You'll be able to buy
twice as much.