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Holiday Mom

As I reflect on my life with my mother, I recall memories of her teaching me how to dance, how to pray, how to clean of course, and mosy importantly, how to enjoy the holidays.  It didn't matter at who's house we gathered, only that we were together. She would always make something yummy and the family would bring over their favorites. Usually, her tamales were in demand so she would make those and enjoy watching everyone eat them. She woiuld also make menudo so we could have that for breakfast and after church.  Whatever she made, it was always delicious and enough to feed a small army.

Now a Mom myself, I wonder how she did all that she did with such a limited income. In most of my time with her, she  was a single mom with four children yet we always had presents to unwrap, new XMas clothes to wear to church, and delicious food to enjoy with the family. I remember her saying, "It doesn't matter what you serve  or what you wrap for a present, as long as you  have something.  What's important is that we are together."

She enjoyed decorating her home, setting the dinner table so everyone had a place just for them, and playing music while she was working in the kitchen. I remember hearing Freddy Fender, Kenny Rogers, and Mariachi Music of course.  Whatever the plan was, Mom was all in to gather and celebrate.

Mom would reminisce about the times she celebrated the holidays with my aunts and uncles.  She would grin when she remembered that their laughter was sometimes so loud, they somehow made the door chime ring!  She recalled playing cards or dominoes and always catching my grandmother cheating yet never admittng it. 
She loved being around family. She told me once, "when you feel down, just invite family and friends over...they will bring their good energy and leave it in your house for you".  Mom believed in love. Love could be expressed and left behind for you in a hug, a laugh, or a treat to eat after everyone leaves and the house is quiet again. I don't know how she lived alone all those years.  She was aging and times were changing, but one thing stayed the same...she was always excited for the holidays.

When my mom and family moved to Sacramento I was so happy. We would be much closer to each other and we could have more time to celebrate life together. My mom started coming over and watching me decorate my house. She enjoyed helping me unpack my XMas decorations one by one and sharing how beautiful she thought they were. I think her favorite, or my favorite, was listening to the sounds of adoration she would make when she unpacked baby jesus for the nativity set...."look at him...he's such a precious baby jesus" she would say, and sometimes offer a kiss. I remember grinning one year because I handed her a wad of paper and asked her to see what was in it - knowing already that baby jesus would soon be reveald!

She loved coming over and tasting the delicious food that Clemente was cooking. She would ask, "What yummy thing are you making me Clemente?"  She would ask his recipe and sometimes say she had never had anything that good before! She had a lot of grattitude for Cemente, especially in her end of days. When she couldn't eat solids, she sipped the broth he made for her and would say..."Mmmmm, this is gooood broth...."  I'm not sure who it made happier....her or Clemente. She knew it was specially made for her and she appreciated it. 

December has always been special for my Mom. This may be why she loved the holidays. When she was in a sanitrium in Kingsburg, she had a religious encounter.  She was not raised in the Church by her parents. She said her grandfather believed that "Religion makes you weak" so picking up the bible and readfing it was a bold move for her. She said she had no specific intention at the time, but was curious so decided to read it. Only 19 years old, she sat on her bed and held a bible.  She felt a breeze and saw the curtains in her room sway. Shortly after, a nurse walked in to check on her and Mom asked her to close the window. The nurse responded "The window isn't open Myrna."  Mom said, "Yes it is, I could smell the roses". The nurse said, "There aren't any roses, there is just snow everywhere". Some weeks later, mom felt blessed because she read a scripture of the virgin Mary's words...."You will know my presence by the smell of a rose".  

Mom knew she was going to devote herself to the blessed mother and our Lord moving forward. This was the start of her December joy for the Holidays. With no planning of her own, Mom was baptized on Dec 3rd and years later confirmed on December 3rd as well. I think she may have also been waiting for Dec. 3rd to meet her Lord Jesus Christ. Either way, December is a special month for her. It is also no coincidence that Dia de La Virgen is December 12th and I will always celebrate our blessed mother, family, and moms love during this time.  

Posted by Roxana Reyes
Friday December 8, 2023 at 8:36 pm
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