A bit of a sit-down
Wednesday, December 17, 2014 by lifeonthecutoff
“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
From “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
On a marathon mission to get some Christmas gifts, I stopped for a some refreshment and a bit of a sit-down. An elderly woman was enjoying her lunch with what appeared to be her granddaughter. They seemed to be enjoying each other’s company. Large shopping bags filled with purchases nestled atop empty chairs at their table. I couldn’t hear their conversation, but the scene reminded me of a long ago December afternoon with my mother.
Ma wanted to do some Christmas shopping. I offered to take her. My mother learned to drive later in life. She approached 50 years old when she took to the wheel, after my father passed away. She drove mostly to work and back, which was barely a mile, and she would drive to our house, which was a direct route, with few turns.
On the day of our Christmas shopping, Ma drove to our house and then I drove my car to one of the shopping malls. I dropped her at the door of Carson’s and parked the car. We shopped, ate lunch and shopped a bit more. It was a pleasant time. My mom kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas.
Ma really tried hard to buy me the perfect gifts. I often regret that I wasn’t more appreciative of her efforts, though, I promise you, some were really hard to appreciate. One day, I will tell you the story of my 21st birthday and my “party dress”, which has grown to legendary status. Let me just hint that it had to do with gold lame, rhinestone buttons, dozens of pleats – in 1970 while I was in college!
We walked and talked and shopped and reminisced. It was a slow go as my mother had rheumatoid arthritis, which affected all her joints, but, especially her feet. As she started to tire, I thought aloud that we should head on home. We worked our way through Carson’s, via the lower level so I could get her to the elevator. As we walked through the housewares section, I stopped to look at the Pfaltzgraff Christmas plates. Ma looked as well. I casually commented how I always thought it would be fun to set a Christmas table.
Four place settings and two more shopping bags later, we lumbered into the elevator. There was a sprightly spring to Ma’s step as she smiled at me. “I think I finally bought you something you like” she said – and she had. The original Christmas Heritage pattern, I bring them out each December, recalling the day my mother insisted on gifting me with them for Christmas.
I thought about my mom and my Christmas dishes as I observed the women sitting across from me and made a mental note to bring the plates out when I got home. These dishes were one of the last Christmas gifts she ever gave me. She added to them before she passed on, and even spoke of them in delirium once when she was deathly ill with pneumonia, muttering something about giving the doctor a silver dollar to buy me more Christmas plates.
The doctor never got that silver dollar, but, Ma survived pneumonia – and I received a few more plates for Christmas that year. I’m glad I took the time to eat and rest while shopping, for, in so doing, I recalled my mother and that sweet day more than 2o years ago; a very dear memory, indeed, and a far greater gift of Christmas heritage.