I've always loved the holidays, probably because my mom loves this time and infused me with her appreciation from an early age.
My mom is the most incredible artist, and every year she comes up with another incredible creative outlet for the holidays. When I was a kid, she made these Christmas candy trees--styrofoam cones covered with fragrant balsam tree sprigs and candy. She'd leave them in the lobby of our apartment building for all the kids.
She made ornaments and angels, trees and wreaths, decorated the apartment until it looked like a Christmas wonderland. Helping my mom with all that stuff and just being surrounded by it brought me such cheer.
Now, she is making the most artistic, beautiful mosaic flower pots. She's given me a few and I don't have plants that are really worthy of them, but I try to put them in prominent places anyway.
My mom always loved decorating the apartment so much, I think it must be hard for her now that we celebrate Christmas here in Maryland at my aunt's house and we're not at the apartment to enjoy the wonderland she used to create. But I hope she feels, as I do, that what she created is still unfurling in the world.
My parents have always been very materially generous with me and my siblings; we have never wanted for anything in the physical world. I know that for my parents, the material things they've given us have simply been manifestations of love. For a little kid, who doesn't understand abstract concepts like Love, food and toys and Christmas presents are obvious ways for a parent to express the almost unbearably intense love they have for their children. That habit died hard for my parents and they still send me delightful care packages and dog snacks all the time.
But each year, the Christmas gift-giving gets a little less frantic and the emphasis shifts a bit more to other things. This year, we've decided there will be very few gifts. My parents are coming down with Dizzy and Barry and Elyse and Uncle Johnny, and we'll celebrate Christmas Eve with my sister and Christmas with my aunt.
I'm certain that a few gifts will change hands--my sister has resolved to give the gift of abrasive soap to one and all--and my mom will make her devastatingly scrumptious nutty vegan meatballs. But the best thing of all is that we'll be together, and will get a chance to exchange the nonmaterial gifts we have learned about from an early age from our indulgent, dog-loving, generous, creative parents.