Monday, December 22, 2008

Approaching Christmas

Am I the only one who has a hard time getting in the mood for a joyful Christmas?

As I addressed Christmas cards, I realized most of my friends are in their 80's. How many would come back marked "deceased"? So far: none. But phone calls came from New Mexico and Illinois and Michigan, each recounting health problems more painful than mine. "I don't have the energy to send cards any more." Getting old is not easy for anyone.

Lack of energy is a major problem for me, too. Is it because I don't feel well physically? Or has feeling unwell made me depressed? Or is it Depression because all my children are far away . . . and I remember other Christmases when I was alone?

My brother Don brought my artificial tree from the storage shed and set it up in the front window. This is my third artificial tree. When Wally bought a "real" tree, it always looked like it came out of a Charlie Brown cartoon. Finally, in frustration, I bought a big, handsome artificial tree at Sears; Wally took it in the divorce. The tree I had in New Mexico was left as part of the sale of my house in Albuquerque.

The new tree, bought at the thrift store two years ago after I moved to Texas, came with lights permanently attached. All I do is plug it in. The multi-colored lights look cheerful to children passing by on Meadowcrest Drive and also to me, sitting across the house in the den.

But it took two weeks before I opened the big box and starting taking out ornaments. Then memories rushed out with each little bauble I hung on the tree.

Little cradles I bought for a dime more than 50 years ago at the dime store near our apartment in Chicago. Wooden soldiers made by my friend Betty when we lived in Michigan. Paper birds from a little shop in the French Quarter when Wally let me go with him on a business trip to New Orleans. (That was a good time.) The red paper mache pony Martha made in Girl Scouts when we lived in Irving -- another Dallas suburb, 20 miles and 40 years from where I now live in Garland. Finally, all the "soft" cloth Santas, angels, and little red hearts, hand-made by me to hang on the lower branches after David's cat, Matilda, attacked the tree.

So far I've found only one "soft" snowman lying under this tree. My cat, Charlie, seems content to lie on the carpet looking at the lights. Surely I can be content, too, with all the reminders of good memories. I enjoy my Christmas tree. Also, at the opposite end of the room, in the center of the dining table, is a red vase filled with dark red roses and white lilies, sent by my daughter, Martha, far away in Illinois.