Traditions = Pickles

I’ve been warned this holiday season is going to be harder than last year.  Last year I spent it in a state of shock.  Mom was only “away” for the season.  She wasn’t gone forever.  She’d be back.  Wrong.

So, the shock wore off and reality set in.  And I have to deal with it.  But how?  To ignore the holiday – her favorite – seems like it would make it more painful.  Who can hide from Christmas?  Except for maybe the Jehovah Witnesses and the Jews.   I need to ask them how that works.

But I don’t want to hide from it.  I want to face it.  Face the elephant in the room, I say.  That’s what she did.  She lost her mom when she was only 24.  And she still loved Christmas.  I’m going to get out all the decorations especially the ones she made.  I’m going to play the Christmas music and watch the sappy Christmas movies.  I think.  Deep breath.  I got this.

My first feat in facing the holiday elephant came yesterday at Wal-Mart.  The holiday section is in full gear in the corner of the store.  “Okay,” I thought.  “I’m going to get this over with.  I’m going to walk through the holiday section right now.”  Ha, take that, you red and green elephant!

I did okay in the Christmas village section.  I did fine in the lights and trees.  I was brave in the lawn ornaments .  But then I saw it.  Hello, breaking point.

Years ago I started a tradition.  Every Thanksgiving I gave mom a Christmas decoration to display for the season.  My reasoning with the Thanksgiving gift is if you give someone a Christmas decoration for Christmas a whole year goes by before being able to display and appreciate it.  Every Thanksgiving I gave her something to add to her collection.  It started out with village pieces until she finally told me she was tired of the village.  She wanted to collect snowmen.

I decided to keep up with the collection since a lot of her snowmen will come back to me.  And that’s what did me in at Wal-Mart.  Snowmen.  I could feel my eyes get misty.  I pushed the hands of the musical snowmen.  Christmas songs began to play as they danced.  A tear actually formed and I was in danger of looking like Frosty on a warm day.  I went down the line pushing all of them to hear the different songs.  Even the crude Rootin-Tootin ones.  Somebody was in the aisle with me.  She didn’t say anything but I could sense her distaste of the Rootin-Tootin songs.  I agreed.  But I did one of those half-laughs half-cries that come out kind of maniacal.  She went to another aisle.

Which snowman to get?  None were that cute.  The last few years I’ve found a better selection at Kmart.  But I thought I’d finish my holiday section excursion anyway.  On the end of the last aisle I found more snowmen.  Not the plush kind that I usually get.  These were ornaments to hang on the tree.  And they included birthstones.  I went through them and instinctively looked for October.  Apparently October is a popular birth month because it took some digging.  It was only after I found one that I realized what I did.  My birth month is August.  Her birth month is October.  Which one should I get?

I threw October in my cart.  Is that weird?  Probably.  But I figured one last snowman for her wouldn’t hurt.  As I pushed my cart away from the holiday section I could feel my eyes water again.  I could sense my face was red and splotchy.

“Get it together, Lee,” I thought.  “I got this.”  And I was fine for a bit.  Until I thought of my little snowman in the cart.  By this time I was in the grocery section.  Nobody asked if I was okay though I’m sure a few were probably thinking – “Wow!  There’s a lady who gets really excited when they roll back prices.”

Luckily, I was in the frozen food section and opened the door.  I let the air cool my hot, splotchy face and dry out my eyes.  Having a break down in Wal-Mart is not on my list of to-do’s.  I pulled myself together. And I got accosted by a petitioner wanting me to donate to some cause which kind of helped me get over myself.  Since I was still recovering I didn’t pay attention to what I donated to though.  It had something to do with dogs and the disabled.  I think.  It could have been anything.  Hopefully, my two dollars will go to a good cause.

I paid and left the store.  All in all, I’m pretty proud of making it through my first holiday jaunt.  Bring it you massive holiday season, you.  I got this.

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