On Sunday, I popped over to see Meems before church. She was parked in front of the TV in the common room of Aberdeen House. Her eyes were wide open and as I drew closer to her, a sweet smile of recognition lit up her face.
"Mom, we're going to do something fun this afternoon!"
I decided that I would give her a heads up about the Christmas celebration so that she would have something to look forward to. Again, she smiled.
"We're going to have gingerbread pancakes! It's going to be CHRISTMAS!"
"But, I haven't finished my shopping yet..." she whispered.
"It's all taken care of!"
"Do you have my transportation scheduled?" (She knew that she would need the van to transport her in her wheelchair to my house.)
"Nope! We're comin' to you!"
Big, bright smile.
I leaned in to give her a hug.
"You're a good, good daughter."
That afternoon, Bryce (middle child), Kelly (niece) and I snuck into Meems' room and set out Christmas. Her Christmas wreath decorated with her favorite ornaments from her legendary big, fat Christmas tree that required sturdy guy wires attached to two walls was hung on her door. Then, we unpacked her favorite Santa, her beloved Feliz Navidad hat, and a present for each attendee to open. (Each attendee provided his/her own gift from his/her own closet.) I had stuffed each gift into a gift sack. If you know me well, you know that gift sacks give me a twitch. Only for Pretend Christmas would I not meticulously wrap each gift. Twitch. Twitch.
When Alan arrived with Meems' best friend Leonard in tow, it was time for the Reindeer Games to begin.
Leonard was "all in" for the 6/25 Christmas Celebration. He was all "Meeeery Christmas!" and "A tie! Miss Helen got me something I can really use - a beautiful tie! Why I'm going to wear it next Sunday! Thank you so much!" The tie came out of his very own closet.
We served "silver dollar" gingerbread pancakes dipped in orange marmalade syrup. I called it "intinction." Mom's gift (a Corsicana fruitcake she's been reminding me about since early March) was passed around. Meems and Leo were the only ones that partook of the fruitcake. We are only one or two generations away from Fruit Cake Extinction.
Then, came the carolers! Our dear friend, Nanette, and her daughter, Mary, started singing just outside Meems' door. They strolled in wearing Christmas caroler attire. Tears came to my eyes. They are sweet, sweet friends who "get it."
I learned something during our little celebration. I know that this sounds cliche, but Christmas CAN be any day of the year. Sitting snuggly in Meems' small room with some of our loved ones...opening fake gifts...singing a few Christmas carols...munching on snack-sized gingerbread pancakes... It felt like the most wonderful time of the year. You wanna hear something funny? Not funny "ha ha." Just funny. During the time that we spent celebrating, Meems was awake and aware and responding appropriately to the situation. She didn't question the fact that we were eating gingerbread pancakes in June, but she was right there "with us" the whole time. Bless. Her. Heart.
That morning at church, Leonard told me that he thought it was a good idea to have a 6/25 Christmas for Meems so that she could enjoy it while she was still "in the land of the living." Then, he asked, "Are we going to celebrate New Year's Eve next week?"
We will celebrate any holiday that looms ahead in Mimi Land, Leonard. And you, my friend, will make the celebration all the more fun. I can hear it now..."Happppppy New Year!"
Merry Christmas, friends.