‘Twas the night before Christmas

7 or 8 years ago, my mom found these Hallmark books that let people record the voices as they read each page. She bought Aidan one and was very adamant that she read certain parts. She just HAD to take over. If you know my mom, you know how very true this is!

She passed 4 years ago, December 4th. Her death forever changed December in my eyes. Death, Burial, Birthday then Christmas….December SUCKS. I do the acts, I do the tree, we have the gingerbread houses and the ugly sweater contests, we do the lights ( or the new fake spotlight ones now). We do the actions, for the kids, but Christmas is just not the same, as it was before. I play along and fake it until January, for the kids. Im not sure its even obvious how much I hate this month. But let me assure you, I hate December and Christmas and each year, I cannot wait until January 1st!

The year that she died, I found that stupid Hallmark book and found a few new copies on Amazon. My dad and I did some slick moves and created one for Gunnar and one for my niece and nephew. Grandma’s voice and all. Both Gunnar and Aidan have their very own books, with Grandma and Grandpa reading and saying they are loved. Very cherished possession right there!

So today, the music teacher sends Erik and me an email asking us to help Gunnar with his words to his Christmas play. He hasn’t given us much info on his part or his words, so I didn’t think much of it. Told Cassie “of course!” we would help with the words. I got home tonight from work, cut some tile, made some dinner (ie heated up some pasta and then a cinnamon roll for dessert lol) and came to bed to snuggle with Gunnar and work on his lines.

I realized, and I’m not sure why it wasn’t more obvious before, that the Christmas play at school, is the very same book that my mom had recorded for my boys.

I got to listen to my mama tonight read to my son. He has no idea how much she loved him and he probably doesn’t even recognize her voice. He barely knows her anymore, just that grandma is in heaven. He didn’t notice my tears as I heard her voice, for the first time in a year (since we listen to her book every year). But tonight, I listened to my momma Her laugh. You can hear her smiling. Anything for my boys, those two, made her happy!

And so while I was so annoyed at my mom, for being the bossy, crazy, demanding lady that she was, for recording a stupid book, today I am grateful I can hear her again and know that my son can know her voice.

I learned many things in my mom’s death. Things I wish I would never have learned and would trade ANYTHING to forget. I am constantly reminded of these things and I wish they would stop. But take it from me, learn from me now, before these same things haunt you.

1) Record a book for your kids/grandkids. Let them hear your voice whenever they need it.

2) Get out from behind the camera. Your kids do not care if your hair is done, if you have a pimple, if you are a size 2 or a 22. When you are gone, your kids will just want to see YOU, to remember YOU. Memories fade, pictures last a lifetime.

3) Write dates on cards, because one day they will forget what year that birthday card is from

4) Write a letter. Sign it “LOVE MOM”. One day your kids will NEED to see a reminder from their mom, that they were loved.

5) Show your kids how you want to be treated when you are sick and dying. I knew exactly what my mom wanted in her death, because I watched her fight for my grandma and grandpa, telling me that she is trying to help them die with dignity. I didn’t remotely understand what that meant at 14, but when the time came, I knew! My parents taught me the right way!

6) You gotta talk about it. No, not feelings, because this is probably the first time I have talked about it and I won’t talk about it tomorrow either. I mean you gotta talk about grandma with your kids, even in her death. Do not let your kids forget about grandma. First, Grandma wouldn’t like it and second, its pretty painful to hear your child say “i don’t remember grandma”

7)Us moms are a lot of things, but perfect isn’t one of them. It’s ok to not be perfect either. No matter how imperfect moms may be, one thing they do not lack is the amount of love they have for their grandkids. So while you may have to shield some behaviors, good, bad or otherwise, know this…you do not need to shield them from the people who unconditionally love them. We all need to be loved just a little more anyway, so why not let that annoying imperfect grandma/mom do it.

8)Grandma doesn’t care about those things…..My mom left a gift for me, waiting on the counter when I got home. Each time that music box is played, I think of her. The kids LOVE opening it, still. I used to worry that it would break and I wouldn’t have it anymore. Then I realized that Grandma doesn’t care. If grandma had to buy a million music boxes because the kids are opening them up to hear the song, to talk about grandma, to think about grandma, then so be it. Grandma doesn’t care!!

9) I almost forgot! My mom used to tell me that even as an adult, when your parents die, you feel like an orphan. I thought she was crazy. Again, I get it now that I have been through it. And even though I have my daddy, a woman ALWAYS needs her momma. She always wore her mother’s wedding ring and engagement ring on her right hand, ring finger. I immediately understood why, once she passed. So now, I wear my grandma’s wedding band, just as my mom did and I wear the ring my dad gave my mom. Its the only way to keep your mom close to you.

One day, everything we go through with our own parents death, our kids will go through. I don’t know many things, but I know this….I do NOT want my kids to know this feeling. Anyway I can ease it, I will!

So on that note, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

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