“Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, please to put a penny in an old man’s hat!”
I’ve been known to burst forth in this traditional English carol whenever it’s near enough to Christmas to warrant it. Many moons ago when my children were small, this was my cue to joyfully anticipate the coming of Christmas. I don’t know why I happened on this particular song, though it’s a favorite from past madrigals and perhaps because we have geese.
I was horrified one year when my mother-in-law suggested we actually eat one of our abundant flock. I never sang that song in front of her again. She tried to persuade my hubby to catch one for Christmas dinner, but he was reluctant and it didn’t appeal to her to scamper after them alone, so that’s how the matter was left. The geese lived to see another Christmas unmolested and we had our usual turkey, not a bird I’m the least bit sentimental about.
Eons ago when our son was in grade school and times were particularly tight, I suggested that perhaps it would be a good idea to give more hand-made gifts because after all, what was Christmas all about? Wasn’t it enough to focus on the wonder and true meaning of Christmas? To sing carols, pop popcorn, read stories, make paper chains…simplify. In other words, “We don’t have much money, son.”
He regarded me impassively for a moment, then said, “You could get a job and we’d have more money.”
I was taken aback. “But my job is being here on the farm with you and Daddy and your sister(s). Who would take care of you and the house and do all I do, if I weren’t here? You’d rather have Mommy here than more money for mere gifts, surely?”
He considered this reasoning, got out the calculator and the Christmas wish book and proceeded to tally up the desired items. He then presented me with his estimated cost. How I wanted to handle it was up to me, but here was his projected budget.
I cast my mind back to when I was a mere nine, sensitive, humble in my expectations and grateful for whatever I received. There was the one moment when an “Is that all?” slipped out of my mouth, but that’s the only ingratitude I can remember.
I’m glad to say my son has grown into a fine young man with a family of his own and is appreciative of all I did as his stay-at-home crazy writer/gardener mom. All three of my children are, and now the grandbabies are excited to come visit and find me here. Little faces light up and they toddle to me with outstretched arms or hurl themselves at me for hugs. Precious little people.
Christmas means being with family and friends, treasuring those times, and shared traditions. This year, more than ever, I find comfort in the enduring truth at the heart of the season, best summed up in the ancient words of the Gospel of Luke. “And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”
***Goose pic by my mom, our dog Mia under the Christmas tree by daughter Elise and my husband took the one of our daughter-in-law and grandbaby as Mary and baby Jesus in the Christmas program at our church several years ago. That baby is now three.