While I certainly qualify for clerical celibacy given that I’m not married and haven’t met anyone I want to become romantically involved with for a while now, no worries! The nuns would still kick me out of the convent for other bad behaviors such as taking the lord’s name in vain when being rude to my well-meaning mother last week.
Whenever she opens with, “I don’t mean to upset you BUT…” I know the conversation is headed to a place only a mother can take her daughter to. I’ve now learned that’s my cue to cut her off as swiftly as a SWAT team storms a building.
“Then just don’t say it, Mom,” I tell her. But she then she looks like she swallowed a bird until she spits out whatever it is anyway.
This time it was about Christmas.
“You remember your Christmases, Laura,” she said as if I were a head bandaged amnesia patient. “You used to go to church services and buy lots of presents for the girls and make big, beautiful dinners and now you do nothing. I wish you’d get back in the spirit.”
It’s not that we do nothing. We do celebrate Christmas, but it’s just in a different way than before now that the girls are older and my husband, Mark, is gone. We decided early on to start a new tradition of having no tradition, except to decorate a tree. Otherwise, it’s a spontaneous day that we look forward to, never knowing exactly what I have in store for them.
One year, it was off to the W Hotel in the city. Another, we hit the escape hatch by heading to the Dominican Republic. This year I woke them up, told them to grab their bathing suits and spent the day soaking in indoor/outdoor hot tubs at Spa Castle, a Korean spa in Queens. I understand that this is probably not what Norman Rockwell had in mind, but neither was global warming.
I’m pretty sure that spending money on experiences that create memories rather than on objects is the way to go– at least for us. That’s why nothing, Mercedes or money, could match what my 16-year-old daughter gave me last night.
“Mom, can I sleep with you?” she whispered into my ear, pulling her blanket onto my bed and wrapping her body around mine. We laid there together, not talking, as she let me kiss her forehead and stroke her long wavy hair. When she fell asleep, I dared not move, even though my tears were dampening her face.
That’s how I know God is still in my life even if I didn’t visit him at church and why I believe in Christmas miracles.