Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tis The Season

Mom's birthday. 42, again. A good son won't reveal his mother's age. So I'll feign a good streak and keep it to myself.

As per our family tradition, we celebrate by putting up the Christmas tree and decorations. When I was growing up, Jason usually did the detailed work. I'd help Dad get all the boxes down. Mother would place all the ceramic figures and say a few encouraging words. My brother would spend an hour or two making endless circles with strings of lights and beads and eleventy billion holiday bulbs. I never had the patience for it. Never felt the Christmas spirit. I'd rather watch Mom and Jason enjoy themselves. It was one of those rare occasions when we'd come together as a family with one goal and one set outcome that never failed to live up to our expectations. I even carried the tradition to Atlanta, GA, and we'd wait until Mom's birthday to get set the scene.

This year, the magic has fled. Since the repairs were completed on my Dad's house, Cindy and the kids and I have been living in the computer room. Our lives reduced to the smallest bedroom in the house. Cindy and the children sleep on the "day bed" and I sleep on the living room floor. Because of our schedules, we've all managed to stay out of each other's hair. And thankfully the furnace of summer and hurricane season is behind us. But Christmas in the wake of Katrina isn't the same. We try not to talk about it. But it weighs down our bones. Makes our eyes heavy. Our conversations slower and quieter. And Jason isn't with us. He is in Las Vegas, doing whatever he's going to do. God help him.

But we celebrate our proud tradition. Happy Birthday, Mom. We're raising a tree in your honor. Let the holiday season officially begin for the McDougal Family.

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