Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Gift from Above

I do not know where my family will gather for Christmas Eve this year.

For as long as I can remember, we have celebrated at Mom and Dad's wonderful old Kentucky home, a tradition that became known as "Jenkinsmas".

This is where I fell in love with porch swings.

Every family has their own Christmas traditions. Jenkinsmas is no exception -- only our family traditions are, um, especially unique. Consider Mom's grape tree, for instance:

All it needs is a little love. And some grapes.

Then there was the year Mom suggested we play "Christmas flutes." The egg nog must have been especially noggy that Christmas.

And we can't forget our beloved "Otto", a blue ottoman who became the Jenkins family mascot.

Last year, we celebrated Jenkinsmas in our jammies.


As you can see, we always partied in style. Jenkinsmas is a very classy affair.

Merry Mustache-mas    

No matter our antics, Jenkinsmas has always been the very best kind of Christmas.

Before you read the rest of this post, please take a moment to read this column I wrote for this year's holiday edition of Evansville Woman magazine:

Then you'll understand why my siblings and I wonder if we can still find the magic of Jenkinsmas without our beloved mother, who died in August from cancer. How can it be Christmas without her?

As it turns out, we aren't without Mom at all. Not really.

Mom had been diagnosed with Stage IV gallbladder cancer in August, 2012 -- and although she was responding beautifully to treatment over the holidays and never once showed her family anything but hope and strength -- she wanted to ensure she was with us this year.

So last January, as she put away decorations, Mom wrote a note to us and placed it in a box, on top of the Christmas lights.

My siblings discovered her letter while helping Dad decorate the massive 10-foot Christmas tree he placed in the living room in honor of Mom.

This, friends, is Mom's gift to us at Christmas -- a gift from above -- left for those she cherished. You see, Christmas for us has never been about things. Not ever. It has always been about family.

Thank you, Mom, for letting us know that you are still with us, even if we are unable to find the strength to gather in that big, old house this year.

You will find us, wherever we are.

Chances are, we will be by your grape tree, tears mixing with laughter, celebrating Jenkinsmas, celebrating you. Just like we Otto.

We will remember the true meaning of Christmas, which began in a manger long ago, and carries over in a mother's note, tucked among strands of lights...

The gift of eternal love.

Merry Christmas, Mom.

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