Pretty and me – our first Christmas
In the wake of the most devastating attack against the United States since Pearl Harbor, Pretty and I shared our first Christmas in the home we’d bought when we moved in together in the summer of 2001. The entire world changed after the 9-11 act of terrorism in New York City and, while Pretty and I were as devastated as the rest of the nation, I have to say that nothing dampened our happiness as we prepared for the holidays.
Pretty loves Christmas, and she decked the halls and walls and everything else she could find to deck with holiday trimmings – the house was a sea of vibrant red and green and silver and gold colors, and the packages were carefully wrapped in beautiful papers to match the thoughtfulness of every gift she bought.
I, on the other hand, lost my love of Christmas somewhere along the way in my life with my “lost saints and childhood faith,” to quote Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but my love of Pretty was fresh and new and as shiny as the ornaments on our tree so the smile on my face in the picture captures my emotions perfectly.
Our older dogs Annie (Pretty had her from a previous relationship)and Sassy (ditto for me from my ex) and our new “together” puppy Red were having a fun time adjusting to their new home and to each other, but they seemed to sense the additional excitement in the air during the holiday season. They were as busy as little bees buzzing around the tree and presents – sniffing to beat the band.
My mother Granny Selma flew in from Texas to spend a few days and spent a great deal of her time wandering around the house looking for the stairs and/or worrying about the one king-sized bed in our bedroom. She also was a good one for counting the dogs when we were all in the kitchen sitting on stools at the island in the middle of the room.
One… two… three dogs, she would count out loud and I’d say that’s right, Mom, three dogs. No more. No less. As I look back, I can see the beginning of her dementia at that Christmas visit, but I chose to ignore those early signs.
Pretty’s family came on Christmas day to open gifts and eat our mid-afternoon meal which was a sit-down meal in the real dining room we had in our first house. Pretty’s father, sister and son combined with my mother made for a strange mixture at that first family gathering, but they all shared a love for Pretty and me so we blended into a family that is now a part of the American fabric.
My Christmas Cactus
Fifteen Christmases later Pretty still loves the holiday season and everything that goes with it. I’m sure she has spent the week in Florida buying presents that she will need to carefully wrap this weekend while we put up our outside tree for our neighborhood association Lights of Christmas. I will help as much as I can, but I am the first to admit my limitations in decorating.
I do, however, love my Christmas cactus in my office – it stays on the front porch for most of the year but when the weather turns cold and the blooms burst into colors, I bring it in to enjoy to the max. My dad’s monkey reading the Wall St. Journal is a permanent office fixture. I think he likes the Christmas cactus, too.
Have a Merry weekend as the year winds down and the traffic revs up.