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(http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/christmas-older-mother/st-nick/)Last week, while walking through the local shopping centre—bustling with about as much Christmas activity as the OK Corral at high noon—I couldn’t help but ask “Who died?”
Despite refusing to allow the economic mess we’re in to leave me crying in my mug of mulled wine on Christmas Eve, I felt that everyone else had stayed home to cry in theirs.
And it was no wonder. The shopping centre—wallowing in enough miserliness to turn the Grinch’s ears pink with shame—had been too cheap to put up the Christmas lights.
That’s tantamount to refusing to lay on drinks and food at a party and then resenting everyone for not showing up.
Where are Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney when we need them? Didn’t the nation understand that—now more than ever—it’s time to “put on a show.”
Yes, of course I understand that we’re crawling on our bellies in the depth of the Great Recession.
Last Christmas, I dutifully joined in the whine-fest about how the USA was one step away from a window-leaping Wall Street crash, while drowning in an infectious swill of swine flu. Was it going to be death by plague or impoverishment?
American media has always pandered to “the sky is falling!” mass hysteria mentality and they were enjoying a regular mud bath alongside the flu-carrying swine.
The subtext of last Christmas was: “Run for your lives! Death and the mortgage lender are in hot pursuit!”
But we survived. We kept faith with our respective Gods. We saw the first black president walk through the pillared portals of the White House and—for a fleeting moment—believed in Kennedy’s Camelot once more.
In 2010, it just had to get better. At least that’s what we thought, hoped, dreamed.
But, like my mom used to say: It can always get worse.
The supposed economic stimulus package was about as usefully implemented as an old man frittering his fortune on a courtesan’s bonbons and furs.
President Obama was virtually taken out behind the White House where he had the stuffing kicked out of him by a bunch of political old boys who thought they’d teach him a lesson.
As a nation, we felt betrayed and cut adrift. The fear began to lick at our bellies like we were sucking the last few inches of air in a car driven and sinking into the Potomac on a bitter December day.
And now, the new Camelot sleeps with the fishes (http://www NULL.imdb NULL.com/title/tt0068646/quotes). Right alongside the old one.
Into the faces of Americans, as they skulked and avoided the shop doorways, crept the look of defeat.
This December, houses with Christmas lights had the distinction of being the exceptions. More than once, as I walked through the aisles of a bargain store, I would hear a mother exclaim, “Oh, that’s too much!” as she perused the shelves.
Soon, I thought, store owners would be standing in the street, giving the stuff away.
Other mothers, at school, in the parks, on the streets would swear, in earnest, that little Jane or Jonny had better not expect much this year.
“Save your pennies,” said one to me, only last week.
I thought of my father (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/the-easter-parade-of-ancestors-part-i/), growing up in the Great Depression of the 1930’s, with nothing but a bag of flour in the house one Christmas, as his widowed father was laid up in the hospital with severe injuries suffered on the job.
My grandfather had forced his own release on Christmas Eve, to spare his children spending it in an orphanage.
Miraculously, they had won a turkey in a hospital raffle. Neighbors showed up with side dishes. My grandfather and his sons rejoiced with what they had.
I realized that understanding of the meaning of real hardship, true miracles and subtlety of God’s good grace is dying out with my father’s generation.
This Christmas, Frank and I spent what money we had on gifts, food and good cheer. We gaily decked the house with Christmas lights and felled the biggest tree we could find that would fit under the roof.
And, as always, on Christmas Day, we watched It’s A Wonderful Life (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Wonderful_Life)—a film that never fails to put economic hardship into perspective.
I have no doubt that those who held the purse strings tightly over Christmas are—now that it’s over—congratulating themselves.
But somehow, when you tighten your belt and live in expectation of the inevitable rainy day, life loses some of its sparkle.
And, whether it’s the sound of an angel getting its wings or the “ting” of a reindeer’s bell from Santa’s sleigh, you will—most certainly—cease to hear them ring (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/The_Polar_Express_%28film%29).
Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) (www.flowerpowermom.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40.
To email me: editor[at]flowerpowermom.com (Replace “at” with @)
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