One of the most memorable Christmas holidays I have ever had was not one that was filled with merriment. Still, it remains one of the most inspirational holidays that I can remember.
For as long as I can remember, I have spent Christmas with my mother. As a child, she was there every Christmas. As a grown woman, she would always come and visit my family during the holidays. Her childlike spirit was contagious. I can still hear her singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” to my children when they were small. I can also hear her singing “Silver Bells”, which was her personal favorite Christmas song. She would come to us bearing a car load of gifts, yummy Christmas cookies she had baked, and lots of laughter.
In July of 1996, my mother unexpectedly died of a heart attack. My world seemed to crash in around me. When the holidays rolled around, I could not seem to get myself over the funk of being without my mother for Christmas. If it had not been for my children, I would not have bothered with a tree or gifts or baking. I would have curled up in a ball, and drowned my sorrow in whatever I could find. Still, a voice inside of me reminded me that I was a mother myself and my children needed me. I put on a mask of holiday cheer. I wasn’t feeling it at all. Behind closed doors I would cry my eyes out. In front of the family, I would smile and sing and pretend I was filled with the Christmas spirit.
When my mother died, my sister and I went through many of her personal items. We kept those that had special meaning to us. One item that I received was my mother’s musical ceramic Christmas house. It was her favorite Christmas decoration. If you plugged it in, it lit up. If you wound it up, it played “Silent Night”. It was beautiful and the perfect reminder of her.
On Christmas Eve, I had a difficult time falling asleep. My mind was flooded with memories of my mother. I knew that on Christmas morning, she would not be there. Things would not be the same without her, and I was wondering if I was going to be able to be joyful for my children. I went into the living room, turned on the Christmas tree lights and just lay on the sofa, wallowing in my grief. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Christmas House started playing “Silent Night”. It played the song perfectly from beginning to end, and then it stopped. I lay there in amazement. Nobody had wound up the music for it to play. Still, it played perfectly…and at the same tempo from beginning to end. It did not start out fast and slow down toward the end as it usually did.
Tears came to my eyes. This time, however, they were tears of joy. I knew at that moment, without a doubt, that my mother was with me. She had played the song for me as a reminder of that, and to let me know that she was sleeping in “Heavenly peace”.
The next morning, my heart was flooded with thanksgiving and joy. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, I was transformed by a Christmas miracle. The day turned out to be one of the best Christmases that I had ever had.