A Valentine’s letter to my mother

Dearest Mom,

Happy Valentine's Day...

Happy Valentine’s Day… (Photo credit: Јerry)

I wish you were here. It’s almost Valentine’s day, and I still think about you. I thought you would live forever and you almost did. At ninety-one you finally gave in. I feel slightly guilty that I made you sign the paper giving the doctor permission to do that hip operation. I didn’t know you’d be signing your death certificate. I know you would never want me to blame myself. I do believe it was your “time to go.”

I figured you’d come through that like you did everything. You’d had a couple of  really bad breaks. You were a strong woman. You weren’t the type to feel sorry for yourself. Going blind at the end was very hard on you, but you “did the best you could.”

Things were starting to slip. Sometimes, you’d get things confused. One time, when we were listening to the radio, you asked me who was singing. It was Perry Como, your life-long crush.

[Portrait of Perry Como, New York, N.Y., ca. O...

[Portrait of Perry Como, New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1946] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

You didn’t remember much about my childhood. That you’d nursed me through a staff infection for two years, that when I broke my shoulder, you’d made slings out of Cleveland Indian scarves. You couldn’t remember our family trip to Washington D.C. when I was 12.  It was like that part of our lives together never happened.

You rarely talked about my father. Not unless I brought it up. Remembering him was just too painful. I know you were hoping to see him after you died. But being the practical person you were, you didn’t believe that was going to really happen. Even though I’m just as practical, I like to imagine that you are together.

When I came to visit, we stuck with the tasks at hand. Walking down to the dining hall, taking a walk outside, and listening to that old radio station where they played all your favorites: Eddie Fisher, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and all those singers from the 1940’s.

You still loved to go out to eat. It was almost like you were escaping from that independent living facility every time I came to visit. It was almost like we were partners in crime.

You loved to go to the beauty shop, and listen to the hair-stylists talk to their customers. It was the last place where you could feel like one of the girls.

In your old age you still cared more about me than you did yourself. You asked me if I wanted that extra dinner you’d ordered from the kitchen of the independent living facility where you lived. You asked me if I was comfortable sleeping on the couch overnight. You offered me sheets and a pillow. You tried your very best to be a good hostess.

You dearly loved all your grandchildren ( and great-grandchildren) and gave what you could to all of them. They were your hope for the future. Maybe your exterior seemed a little tough, but inside you were all mushy. You just didn’t let anyone know it.

When we went through your apartment, we found evidence of this secretive side: saved birthday cards, our old school report cards, photographs, engagement and wedding announcements and  programs from college graduations.

So, on Valentines Day I think of the one woman who loved me the most. When you died, you took my nickname with you. It isn’t the same if someone else calls me “Barbie.”  So, a part of me went with you. But, I’ll never forget you.

Happy Valentine’s Day mom.

Bill O’Reilly doesn’t have to worry about Christmas disappearing: Talk about ridiculousness

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Esperanto: Patro Kristnasko kaj malgranda knabino Suomi: Joulupukki ja pieni tyttö (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know what Bill O’Reilly is talking about when he says there’s a war against Christmas. As Jon Stewart (Daily Show)  pointed out yesterday in a comic bit, there’s Christmas everywhere: lights galore, stores open all year devoted to Christmas, a TV program devoted to Christmas. Go on the radio: many stations are playing nothing but Christmas carols. Some TV cable channels are playing Christmas movies over and over.

My holiday in December (next year November)  is Chanukah. It isn’t really the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar, but since it coincides with Christmas, some people make a bigger deal of it. You do give a present for each day of Chanukah. It’s a happy celebration!

I learned all the words to the Christmas carols in school, and I enjoyed singing those songs. It didn’t bother me in the least, especially singing “Jingle Bells,” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

I love it all. The music, the lights, and the good cheer.  I always knew it wasn’t really “my holiday”  It’s hard to compete with Christmas lights, presents, and everything that goes along with it

Santa Claus brought me my Chanukah presents

Unlike many Jewish children, I earnestly believed in Santa Claus. I thought he brought by Chanukah presents.  I have to admit, this wasn’t a big stretch for me. I liked to believe in fairies, magic, goodness, and kindness. I’m not sorry I was given the chance to believe in him.  Plus, what does it have to do with religion anyway?

My mother used to tell a story about how her brothers and sisters would hang up stockings on Christmas Eve and her parents would take them right down. I guess she thought this was unfair, and she thought believing in Santa Claus wouldn’t make us traitors to the Jewish people.  To partake in some parts of this holiday, made me feel a part of things.

As I got older, I used to wonder. Why didn’t Santa Claus come to my other Jewish friend’s houses? I forget what the answer was, but I guess I happily accepted it I did keep this celebration a little quiet because I didn’t quite feel right about the whole thing.

When I had children, I put Chanukah first. Santa Claus did show up, but he came at the very end, and he brought inconsequential goodies. It didn’t happen every year. My kids never bought the story. Sometimes I wondered if that was a mistake.

It’s hard not to partake in some form of celebrating this holiday. It consumes everyone after Thanksgiving and the entire month of December.

As far as worrying about Christmas going out of style, Bill O’Reilly doesn’t have to worry. As Jon Stewart said, “it’s infringing on other holidays like say…. Thanksgiving. (Referring to Black Friday that was on Black Thursday this year.)

I don’t mind saying the following words either “Merry Christmas!” I wonder if O’Reilly is going to say, “Happy Chanukah.”

What do you think? Any opinions?