A Christmas Wish


​This month’s prompt is “A Christmas Wish”. These kinds of prompts weigh me down. Is the fact that I want a digital photo frame enough of a wish? Or is it too materialistic? Too selfish?

Where does it fall on the spectrum? Digital photo frame vs. peace on earth.

Is peace on earth too much to ask for? Is it a pie in the sky? Pollyanna-ish?

Where does a working Congress fall into that spectrum? Or single payer health care?

I should just stick with my photo frame, shouldn’t I? Anything more is asking too much.

The fact that we got through this year, even though not unscathed is a minor miracle in and of itself.

Maybe just to slow down, and enjoy the long weekend. Play with the toys. Write the thank you cards. Call the cousins. Go for a walk in the cool winter air while waiting for the potatoes to boil. 

A nap.

The other things are too much. I’ve been thinking about my parents a lot this year. I’d like them back. I know there are people everyone wants to bring back, to spend the day with, show off the kids and grandkids. Sometimes, a spiritual future’s not enough.

And then I feel guilty.

How to choose one? And for the others I leave out, and it’s not even a real choice, and it’s not a wish that can actually happen, but I still feel bad that my choice might have consequences despite that guilt being all in my head.

I’d wish for my mother-in-law. Her leaving was too early. I suppose everyone’s leaving is too early, but I know, deep in my soul that had she not been hit by that car in 2013, she’d still be alive today. We did have three more years with her after the accident, and for that we are truly grateful, but we could have had ten or fifteen. Her older sister is still alive.

After the accident, she walked with a cane or a roller as she’d call the walker. She was angry, and yelled at the kids more. She couldn’t help it. Traumatic brain injury has that effect on a personality. I hope they can remember her more from before the accident.

She was spry, and took the bus every year to go applepicking with us. That wasn’t the only time she’d visit during the year. She was here the same week her grandchildren were born, sometimes the week before, helping, and having a mother-in-law in the house “helping” was actually a blessing, and she was HELPING. She was here when my youngest was barely three for five weeks when my husband was required to be away for work.

She drank red wine every night. And drank her tea black.

She missed my son’s high school graduation because of that accident. She just couldn’t make the trip. It was too much for her. In a life that was never too much for her, that must have pained her the most –  not doing something because she didn’t think she could anymore. It pained me.

She grew up in WWII with blackout curtains and rationing, creating recipes from nothing, bicycling to school and as a teenager traveling alone or with another friend to Australia to work at a time when it wasn’t just on the other side of the world, it was practically on another planet.

The Giants Causeway Coast Road. Northern Ireland. (c)2017

Scenic pull off at Ballygally. Northern Ireland. (c)2017

Visiting her cousin Danny this August, and seeing her places, and noting the changes, she should have been there with us. That was always the plan. Someday. When we had the money. We would have made the time; it was the money that made us wait for that once-in-a-lifetime trip with Grandma. She would have loved seeing the kids tramping across the busy road to the grocery, bringing back bread and butter and chocolate, walking the mountains of her youth. She was there in every step, every sunrise, every moment.

We were visiting when she died; in her house while she was in the hospital. I had rethought visiting this week. School had just ended, and I wanted to wait, you know, until she was home, but that would have been summer and too hot, and we all would have been cranky, but I let my head lead, knowing that this was the best week to visit, and thinking that was selfish of me, and so we did. We saw her for three days, and she was tired, but herself. She loved my daughter’s new pink and orange shirt, and loved more that we got it on a really good sale. She told us to get out in that way that grandmas dismiss you to do your life, so we did. And then she was gone.

My wish is too big, and unrealistic, but isn’t that what wishes are for?

My mother-in-law. Circa (?) 1952. (c)1952-2017

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