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Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Putting the X in X-Mas

In my attempt to light a fire under your Christmas spirit I have counted down the past twelve days passing on some of my favorite musical selections to some very lucky winners.

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Everything’s Bigger When You Are Little

"I found some of the old Christmas stockings you kids remember those flat felt ones?"

JMM (my mom) visited us last week, or at least came to see Andra's Christmas decorations.

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Go Tell It On the Mountain Again

Christmas 1994.

The three-year-old choir children twirled and giggled as they were led in a knot of single-file to the carpeted steps at the front of the church. Perfect Shirley Temple curls were accentuated with red and green ribbon. Sprays of plastic berries and twinkling tinsel erupted from shimmering outfits.

And, of course, there were the obligatory boys.

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A Christmas Convert

Well, over the last month Andra has made much out of the fact that I, MTM, was rather Grinch-like in my pre-Andra days. It is true that I had but two modest Christmas decorations then; certainly not the two-trees-worth I now share with Andra. It might be tempting to read between the lines of recent posts to conclude that I have suddenly embraced or am at least empathetic to the outpouring of ornaments that now adorn our home.

The truth is that I have been seduced not by sultry Santa stampings or alluring icicle adornments; it is the the temptations of Tradition that have taken hold of this tempered soul and transformed me into a Christmas convert. This is a much harder admission for someone whose ethic has long skewed to the progressive and modern…or as Andra has put it so often and honorably: Modernist Minimalist MTM.

To claim a tradition risks an admission of sentimentality; a difficult admission, especially for me. But here we are, ALW and MTM ensconced in the same hotel room, in the same northern city, doing the same thing we have done every year for the past ten (which conveniently corresponds to every year we have been in each other’s lives). Is this reiteration a force of habit, a lack of creativity or a fear of the unkown? I am confident that is not the case, as nearly every day of our marriage is embraced as a new revelation. Our extensive travels represent a kind of rootlessness, an antithesis to tradition. So what is it about this recurring Christmas custom we have to come to Montreal and cocoon in the cold and snow?

In my mind, ours is not a rejection of traditions we have been born into, whether they be expectant family gatherings or reverential rituals. Rather, I believe our coming to Quebec is a commemoration of our discoveries in common. That first Noël we shared was not intended to be an adventure, nor was it truly pregnant with the expectation that this would be a world-changing event, but nevertheless it changed us both. Or changed us into Both.

From that point forward we would always be Us, rather than her and him. As we learn new things everyday, things about each other and about the world, we do so together. And that has become our tradition. It is about more than the memories we share, it is about the discoveries we will make and the challenges we will conquer.

Notwithstanding all the memories attached to the ornaments that weigh down our trees back in Charleston, we are here and now celebrating our own Christmas tradition of looking to dreams of tomorrow and the new horizon that is still out there, continually receding as we hopefully charge towards it.

And so I have come to learn that the two ornaments that represented my Christmas tradition for so many years were one too many; it is my gift to have the one and only Andra by my side on this journey into the unknown. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

christmas gift

This post is part of the series Roll Out the Holly, about the stories Christmas ornaments can conjure. Click here to read the series from the beginning.

Mama Get Your Gun Redux

In honor of my father’s Southern Gothic purchase of a Beretta for my sweet mother, a repost.

When I was little, my Mom had this incredible purse. One of those highly-structured bags from the 1960′s, it was covered in tan snakeskin with an off-center brass clasp along the top. Even the interior was lined with leather. Oh, I was too tiny and oblivious to appreciate all of these details back then. I merely thought the purse was pretty.

Mom had this bag made for her by someone in Nashville, Tennessee. I don’t know whether she designed it herself or if she let the maker draw it up for her. Either way, it was, to me, a priceless work of art.

My Mom is the most beautiful woman I know. Still. But, carrying that purse, she was electrifying.

The chic designs of the 1960′s gave way to the fashion disasters of the ’70′s, and Mom put her out-of-vogue pocketbook away, storing it far in the back of her closet, on a shelf at the top. For years, I never saw it.

But, I never forgot it.

When she asked me what I wanted for Christmas a couple of years ago, my mind raced back to that vanished bag. Of all the things I could think of that conjured my mother, nothing did it for me better. “Do you still have that big snakeskin pocketbook?” I asked, trying to be casual and not give away how much I craved it.

“That old thing? THAT’S what you want?” she asked, incredulous.

When I nodded, she said distractedly before hurrying off down the hall, “Well, I’ll have to go get the guns out of it first.”




MTM and I exchanged a look before quickly following her to her bedroom, the doorway into which we both saw her disappear. When we got there, she was up on a chair, rooting around in the top of her closet. She moved boxes and shoes and all manner of detritus before, finally, pulling that purse from the farthest corner. Even covered in dust, it was gorgeous. My breath caught in my throat, and I reached my hands out eagerly to touch it again for the first time in years.

Instead, she moved past me and put the bag on the bed, clicking open the clasp to reveal two guns: a Glock-type handgun and an antique pearl-handled pistol. She started to stick her hand in there and pull one out, when MTM stopped her. I don’t know whether this was all too Southern Gothic for him or what, but he did not want my mother handling her own guns. He eased them out of the purse like he was handling nuclear weaponry.

He and I were both shocked to see that the antique gun was loaded. Every chamber contained a bullet. MTM cried, “What are you DOING with this in the house? I’m taking these bullets out right now.”

My Mom – my prim, proper, dainty, Southern-lady Mom – said, “But, if someone breaks into the house, I want to be able to defend myself.”

How she planned to defend herself when it took her at least five minutes to FIND the bag that contained the guns in the first place was a mystery to both of us. MTM unloaded the weapon and left the whole mess there on the bed, and we’ve never seen those guns again.

Who knows where she’s hiding them now. If I ask for her wedding dress, will it come with guns attached?

Mom with her spanking new Beretta


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