Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Christmas Walk Down Memory Lane


As I stand here in my kitchen, up to my ears in Christmas candy and dirty dishes, I am reminded of my mom at Christmastime.  I remember the fun we had at Christmas--making fudge and date nut balls and homemade caramels and all the rest.  And the decorating--oh, the decorating!  I can still see the Santa door hanging with a red button for a nose. If you pushed his nose, he recited a special Christmas greeting.  To this day I can remember his little speech word for word.

Here's a special Christmas memory of mine.  I first wrote this a few years ago, but it seems worth sharing again.



Christmas, particularly Advent, is a season of anticipation. For many, though, Christmas is also a season of remembering. At times it can seem that we are caught up like Ebenezer in a visitation of the Spirit of Christmas Past. So it was for me last week, when I went out into my yard to clip magnolia branches for my Christmas decorations.

Suddenly I was once again a new mom, very young and struggling to make ends meet. I lived with my husband and my darling six-month-old son in Michigan, 500 miles away from our families in Tennessee. We had just bought our first house, and I wanted it to look special for Christmas, but my budget was very limited. Naturally, I looked outdoors for greenery to bring inside. And there I stopped, as I realized that there were no big magnolia trees in Michigan. No beautiful waxy leaves to arrange just so atop a mantelpiece or in a windowsill. I had spent all my life in the South, and Christmas just didn't seem like Christmas without magnolia leaves decking the halls.


My mother called, as she often did, and I lamented the lack of magnolia leaves. "Oh," she said. "I never thought about the fact that magnolias don't grow in Michigan."

"There are lots of magnolias here," I answered, "just not the evergreen kind. Not the grandiflora with the big beautiful leaves that I want."

"Too bad you can't pop down here for a few minutes," Mama mused. "Nancy (one of her best friends) has four huge trees right in her front yard."

"Wouldn't that be nice?" I answered. And the conversation drifted to other topics.

A few days later, the UPS truck stopped in front of our house. The man in brown walked to the door, bearing a huge box and wearing a puzzled expression. As I signed for the package, he shook his head and said, "I can't imagine what could be in this box. It weighs almost nothing."

Puzzled, I accepted the package from him. It was addressed to me, and it was from my mother. I eagerly tore it open to discover branch after branch of magnolia, each stem carefully wrapped in damp paper towels and encased in plastic bags. As fresh as if they'd just been cut. Mama had visited Nancy and collected magnolia cuttings, then boxed them up and sent them to me.


It's now been many years since my mother died.  I am grateful that I moved back to the South before she went to be with the Lord. I was there when she passed from this life.

I can collect my own magnolia leaves now. But every time I do, I can't help but remember the time that my mother understood that my soul needed a bit of home. And since I couldn't get it for myself, she had it delivered. Via God and UPS.




20 comments:

Shelly W. said...

Oh Richella, this brings tears to my eyes. What a beautiful, sweet memory. And what a special mom you must have had to do such a sweet thing for you AND to raise such a wonderful daughter. :) I'm sure it's not easy being without her, especially at Christmas.

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Richella, what a touching story. So sweet of your mom to have done that for you and now you have these sweet memories of her. I love magnolia leaves, too, but never got around to clipping any of my neighbor's.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

NanaDiana said...

Richella- This brings tears to my eyes. What a wonderful thing your Mom did for you- it wasn't the cost of the gift- it was the gift of the gift. Blessings to you- xo Diana

JMD said...

How lovely. We now live in the desert and I do so miss my magnolia tree. Sigh. I thought of the beautiful leaves for decorating but none are to be found. Even if I could find great faux ones I would be happy but I have never seen them.

Leslie's Garden said...

Richella, what a lovely memory! I have been thinking of my mom a lot this week, and I also wrote a post about her today! This year I wanted to use Magnolia leaves in my Thanksgiving decorations but I didn't have access to a tree. Lo and behold, there was a whole row of them behind Walmart and I loaded up! I like the way you used the branches, I hadn't thought of leaving them on the branch.

Kathy Olson said...

What a beautiful memory of what your mom did for you:)

Erin @ Two Story Cottage said...

Well- written and a beautiful memory. What a great Mom. I see where you got it from!!

Love Being A Nonny said...

The SWEETEST post EVER! May we all learn it's the little, thoughtful things people remember!

Kim Hood said...

Beautiful Magnolias, beautiful mom, beautiful memory! Thanks for sharing, Richella!

Bella Michelle said...

Oh, I have teary eyes now. I have often found myself living outside of the South during Christmas and I completely understand the comfort the familiar can bring. When we lived in NY my MIL would keep us supplied in mayonnaise because it was just something we "needed"...a brand we couldn't get up North.

Merry Christmas, my it be filled with blessings and joy!

Linda said...

Aren't these kinds of memories wonderful? Richella,...thanks so much for posting this story. It made me smile when I think of the love of a mother...and how she wants to give from a heart of love...no matter what the need or desire is!

Now I will always think of you and remember how much magnolia trees, branches, and leaves mean to you whenever they are mentioned. You little Southern belle you! (:>)

Love, Libda

Jen said...

What a beautiful post Richella and what a special Mom you had! This is my second Christmas without my Mom and I have cetainly continued many of her traditions. Wish we had magnolia trees here I love them.

Daffodil Hill said...

Your beautiful post brought tears to my eyes. Like you, I am from Tennessee. Like you, my mother died several years ago, and I held her hand and told her I loved her as she drew her last breath. I live in Maryland now, but I have a beautiful brass container filled with pine cones my mother and I collected during her last visit to Maryland. What a lovely gift your mother sent all those years ago, the sort of gift only a mother would understand. So glad I stopped by to read this today. Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Loved this. Such a sweet story of that precious kind of mother's love. Thank you for sharing this sweet memory. Merry Christmas! Jackie

Designs By Pinky said...

Oh what a sweet story, thanks for sharing that! Now when I see magnolia leaves, I will think of your Mothere! Wishing you a very merry and blessed Christmas. XO

Kayla said...

So sweet! That is the kind of mom I want to be.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

How blessed you are to have had such a dear mom who listened and anticipated your needs. :) Such a sweet story of love, Richella. :) Hope you all had a great Christmas!!

Jennifer Owens said...

Thank you for sharing that beautiful and touching memory of your sweet mother. It reminds me of my own :)

Anonymous said...

My mother is still with me at 93 yrs. old and I can not even think of this world without her. Your mother was a special person and I loved reading your wonderful memory.
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Shandy said...

Thanks for sharing such a precious memory. (I'm typing this through blurry tear-filled eyes.) Sounds like your mom was a special lady <3 It's hard to lose a parent, but we are so blessed to have the memories. Have a great weekend, Richella!

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