It was the Christmas Eve after my mother died. I was making the traditional Hungarian Goulash and pushing through the last details of Christmas. (Christmas seems to have a lot of details!) Though the last years of interaction with my mother had involved a lot of frustration (on her part, due to memory problems) the finality of her being gone was hitting home. The kids were in high school, so we were several stages beyond wonder and awe. Still, as I went upstairs to retrieve the Christmas stockings from the cedar chest, I had a palpable feeling of yearning: what did I want in my Christmas stocking? What did I need this year?
I opened the cedar chest and gathered the stockings: my childhood stocking, a gift from my aunt and uncle; Jacob and Mary's stockings from their babyhood; David's and Carly-the-dog's, too. But along with the stockings came a little girl's blue-checked dress which I did not remember ever seeing before. The label on the dress says Love. Now it is not as though there was a care instruction tag stating "a Special Message from Ma" but that is exactly what this felt like. My response was immediate and I was filled with the very sense of awe and wonder (and love) that I had been missing. And it has stayed with me.
So how am I to interpret this event? I am informed by how I see the world as an artist. I have noticed that sometimes when folks are trying to paint, say a tree for example, they are quite frustrated because they have a preconceived idea of what a tree should look like. This makes it much harder than it needs to be. What works best for me is to let the tree tell me everything I need to know. All the information is there before my eyes, I just need to see it. This is how I am absorbing the Love label. My preconceived idea is that someone departed from this world no longer has contact with us. What I see, however, is my mother filling my stocking with Love.
Merry Christmas, Everyone! May your stockings be filled...