In Part 1 of “3 Things that Almost Stole Christmas“, I talked about the unfortunate timing of my Detox and the sad demise of our Christmas Tree–2 of the 3 things that threatened to steal Christmas this past year.
So while you're reading the continuation of the story, keep in mind that I still wasn't feeling fabulous and that we had left our home 2 days before Christmas to get a tree. And of course the remaining vestiges of the practically decapitated tree needed to be removed from our home as well.
It's not very festive having parts of the offending tree strewn all over the living room while you're trying to set up another tree or open presents. Or even just sit on the sofa.
Next, however, saga of how our Christmas went wrong continues today with “Mrs. M and the Christmas Dinner the Wasn't”.
#3 – Mrs. M & The Christmas Dinner that Wasn't
So then, with Tree #3 in place, Christmas Day had gone along somewhat uneventfully, considering the detox and all. Mom still wasn't feeling fabulous, but at least it was a lot better than “totally Ick!”
We had already agreed that we weren't going to have a traditional Christmas Dinner. Instead, my husband opted for my Pakistani Kima (which is a real favorite around here) and my boys even anything for dinner was OK with them so long as we had my Dairy-Free and Egg-Free Pumpkin Pie (recipe to come soon!) complete with this lovely Easiest Pie Crust.
Suddenly, however, to everyone's surprise, we noticed that somehow it had become 5:00 pm.
What? But it was really just 11 am a few minute ago, wasn't it?
Not sure how that had happened, but you know–with a number of creative-types who are also research and information junkies in the house, time quickly slips away.
Realizing that the opportunity to have some semblance of a celebratory dinner was quickly slipping away, we talked about starting to make dinner, when my oldest said, “But what about Mrs. M?”
Major. Fork. In. The. Road.
Mrs. M, you see, is our former kitty-corner-across-the-street-neighbor. She is in her mid-90s and served as a nurse in World War II. She was widowed years ago, and we used to see her pretty regularly. My boys would take her garbage and recycling to the curb for her, and she'd occasionally hand them a dollar for their efforts.
Mrs. M had a special place in our life. She was the sole reason we would go Trick or Treating some years. The treats were too much of a temptation, and I really am not a fan of Halloween, but the joy on her face seeing my boys dressed up was worth it. Every year.
We watched out for her–checking in if we saw a fire truck there or if there was severe weather, called if we saw a car in her driveway that we didn't recognize–that kind of thing.
Anyhow, years ago, Mrs. M ended up moving to a retirement home. She has no family around, so we do our best (or sometimes not our best) to visit her regularly. My boys' orthodontist's office is right by her new home, so we would stop by after almost every visit to see her.
We did wonder, however, how much she really wanted us to visit.
Typically, we'd go to see her, and she'd seem happy enough, but about 5 minutes after we'd arrived, she'd say something like “Well, nice of you to come,” and we'd know that that was our clue that she was ready to move on to being alone.
Anyhow, back to Christmas.
The boys were upset about the Mrs. M revelation and really didn't want to go and interrupt Christmas to be told “nice of you to come” after 5 minutes, but my husband said that it would be much nicer to see her on Christmas rather than the day after.
So–we got some chocolates from Costco together that we'd bought just for her (Mrs. M LOVES chocolate), put ribbons on the bag, signed a card, and loaded ourselves into the van after calling to make sure she was in good form for visitors.
What we got when we arrived was the final twist to our “Christmas Gone Wrong.”
We arrived around 6:30. Typically Mrs. M goes to bed around 7 pm, so we expected to see her in her room, but she wasn't there.
Puzzled, we went down the hallway and an employee told us that she was in the dining room. Odd. So we went in to find her sitting alone in an almost emptied out dining hall.
She looked thrilled to see us and then asked if we wanted to show my husband her room. She had forgotten that he'd seen it quite a few times before, but no matter. We went.
While we were still in the dining room, however, I asked one of the workers if it would be OK to bring a movie by to watch with her later that week, to which she responded with an enthusiastic “YES!”
So off to Mrs. M's room we went.
When we got to her room, Mrs. M proceeded to ask us if we could figure out how to work the DVD player.
Shocking. Just shocking. This woman, whose hearing was quite terrible, had picked up the bit about the movie, and thought we were going to watch one now.
My heart sank. We hadn't come prepared to watch a movie….so we tried to figure out what to do.
My youngest tried to figure out the DVD player so we could determine what to do for the next visit, while I figured out what to do in order to not dash her expectations. Well, we couldn't figure out the DVD player (despite my son's technical acumen), so that took care of itself.
What happened next was the best part.
The TV was set to CNN and they were showing Finding Jesus, a documentary-style program on the life of Jesus, and Mrs. M seemed to really enjoy it. So we all sat down to watch.
The program was very well done and though not totally theologically correct (not that I would expect that from CNN), it was fascinating to see the Bible brought to life.
We all sat and watched for awhile.
At one point I asked Mrs. M about her bedtime, to which she responded, “Oh, it doesn't matter.”
She wanted us to stay.
So we did.
The program continued, even after the credits rolled, so I checked the internet on my cell phone and found that it was a docu- series that started at 3 pm and went 'til 4 am! Craziness!
No way were we staying 'til 4 am!
Around 8 or so, she said “Well, I really need to go around 8:30,” so I guess though she was having a good time, she knew her limits :).
I informed her about the 4 am ending point of the program and we all chuckled about it.
When 8:30 came, we all reluctantly parted ways.
Did These Things Steal Christmas?
In retrospect, it would be easy for me to feel like it was a real bummer of a Christmas.
And in the midst of the whole thing, well I really felt like I wasn't really experiencing Christmas.
But here's the Truth.
and so is my family.
Or at least we're moving in the right direction.
I can tell I'm still detoxing, and there's oh so much more that I am going to be sharing with you all about this. It's just been fascinating to me.
In fact, I've started my whole family (and our cat!) on Diatomaceous Earth to deal with their toxicity in addition to mine.
New Tree, a New Friend & New Memories
My husband is sooooo ecstatic about the new tree.
But more than that, the memories of that night and how it all came together, just warms my heart.
Plus we have a new friend (Mr. Retired Christmas Store Owner).
And I might, just might, keep the smaller tree up year round. It's so pretty in the room where it is–and the memories come flooding back every time I look at it.
The lights in the boys' room and on the sun room cause the fond memories to pour back in as well.
People Over Food
As we left the retirement home, my oldest said, “You know, you're right. Doing this on Christmas made it so much more special–doing something for someone else instead of just doing something for ourselves.”
He got it.
We can have dinner another night. We can open presents or make cookies any day.
But we couldn't have visited Mrs. M “on Christmas” the next day. It wouldn't have been the same for her. Or for us. There was something special about leaving our plans for her. Giving when it wasn't convenient.
Plus Finding Jesus wouldn't have been on, which is what it's all about anyhow. Finding Him in the every day, even when our hopes are dashed.
Mrs. M saying “It doesn't matter.” about her bedtime–Priceless. I'll never forget it.
So those 3 Things Almost Stole Christmas — or Tried to Steal Christmas.
But they didn't.
Of course, they couldn't. I know that. Christmas isn't going anywhere, but you know what I mean.
It's easy, when things don't go as planned, to feel depressed about how picture perfect things weren't, and to sulk. Instead, let's work to see the good in the trials and steal Christmas (and the rest of life) back.
One Final Thought
I want to add something for those for whom this Christmas was a time of deep loss–much deeper than anything that we went through. Actually, there is more to our story than what I wrote as we continue to deal with physical issues and others, but no one in our family got a horrible diagnosis and we didn't lose a loved one or our home to fire, or anything like that.
I am so sorry if any of those things happened to you (I'm sure that there are some of you out there) and I hope that you are able to find either true physical healing or at least to get the support that you need, hopefully from a local source, but if not, from wherever you can. I don't at all mean to minimize that kind of suffering with this post. Life is hard and it's tough to get through it sometimes. But you don't have to do it alone.
Please reach out to others if you need help–our world is getting messier and we need each other. And God.
Pumpkin Pie, Presents, Parties, the Christmas Tree and all of that—they're just things.
People and the real meaning of Christmas is what it's all about.
And I have to say–this is most definitely the most memorable Christmas that I have ever had.