My precious Mama was a gentle soul. She was the quiet complement to my Dad's gregariousness. She rarely ever said a harsh word, even when we deserved it. She loved Jesus, read her Bible regularly, and prayed for her family and many others. She loved people by cooking for them. She also shared her talents by sewing, quilting, and painting for us. She nursed us when we were sick and when we were just whiny. She was good at adjusting to most any situation just to make it easier on those around her. She still wrote out and mailed letters to loved ones, because she liked communicating that way and because she knew how special it made people feel when they got a piece of mail that was not a bill.
Something else that Mama was good at was being my Mama. She understood my strengths and weaknesses. She appreciated my quirks. She knew to just smile and nod when I said, "Guess what, Mama?". She did not begrudge me the emotional fragility that came with my genetic personality. She never gave up on me even though I fell on my face quite often. She knew that even as an adult, I still was thrilled when she made me a heart-shaped bologna sandwich for Valentine's Day. She knew how to get rollers (hot or wet) to stay in my wavy-only-in-places hair. She welcomed my friends into our home with a hug even if she was meeting them for the first time. She forgave me over and over and over again for transgressions great and small. She treated my husband as her own son and loved on his kids and grandkids whenever she had the chance. She rocked my baby puppies to sleep. She answered my phone calls in the middle of the night when I was crying so hard that I could not breathe and was not able to tell her what was wrong. She constantly went without so that I could have what I needed and what I wanted. She paid for me to have my hair dyed purple, then pink, and then burgundy. She laughed at my stupid jokes. She went with me to movies that she did not enjoy just so she could spend time with me. She loved being my Mama.
Part of being my Mama meant getting outside the comfort zone. In 1998, this meant watching South Park with me on Christmas Eve. I had rented several episodes from Season 1 and we waited until Daddy went to bed and then popped them in the old VCR. Mama gasped a few times during "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride", but she also laughed out loud several times during "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo".
On Christmas Day, Mama would giggle when I would quote lines from the South Park episodes we had watched the night before. Yes, I even told her to "get your b(*&$ a** back in the kitchen and make me some pie" (something Cartman said to his mother). Daddy knew something was going on, but he never had his hearing aids turned up in time to catch what was said and we would not repeat it. By that point, he was used to Mama and me having our own inside jokes, so he didn't question us further and went back to watching football.
One thing that kept going through my mind that day was a song from "the happy, non-offensive, non-denominational Christmas Play" that was put on by the South Park Elementary students in the episode "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo". It was a song supposedly composed by Philip Glass. Over some moody synthesizer music, Mr. Glass speaks verse and another voice sings in a monotone, "Happy, happy, happy... Everybody's happy...". It is certainly the most depressing Christmas song I had ever heard, but it was also darn funny, probably for that very reason.
Today, exactly thirteen years after Mama and I first watched South Park together, that song is going through my head again. That is probably because I just saw that same episode playing on late-night (early morning?) TV. Funny how I got my hands on the clicker just as that show was coming on. Co-inky-dink? Maybe. Maybe not.
This is my first Christmas Eve without Mama. Tomorrow will be the first Christmas since she died. This was the holiday that Mama and I loved celebrating together the most. I completely understand that the reason we have always celebrated Christmas is still valid, but right now I do not really feel like making merry. I feel like singing in a totally depressing monotone, "Happy, happy, happy... Everybody's happy...". I think Mama would get the joke and maybe even giggle a little bit.
I hope that everybody's happy, happy, happy wherever you are today.