Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Mother-in-Law's Gift

When we went to visit Jason's stepdad and brother last weekend,
they gave us this.  It's a German Nativity Pyramid Carousel.
It was one of Jason's mother's favorite Christmas decorations.

I remember the first Christmas I spent with Jason's family.
We had been dating for about 3 months and I had met them once before.
I brought a basket of baked goods and his mom gave me an etch a sketch.
I played Legos with his brother, who was nine at the time.

On our second Christmas together,
his mom made me a stocking and gave me an antique necklace that had been hers.
It's gorgeous.
I still have it.
I will give it to A when she is a little older.

I remember that Christmas and every Christmas thereafter,
after the gifts were opened, 
the men would disperse.
And my mother-in-law and I would pick up all the gift wrap
and put all the tissue paper back in the boxes
and arrange everything neatly under the tree.

Then, she would light the candles on this
German Nativity Pyramid Carousel.
And she would take time to adjust the propellers at the top.
Until it spun.
And the bells chimed.
And the little people did their little dances.
And she and I would watch,
just enjoying this beautiful, magical
drinking in
 the magic of Christmas.

After a while, she would blow out the candles (she was nervous to leave it unattended, as am I).
We would comment on how beautiful and cool it was that the heat from the candles
made it spin,
the bells chime,
the people dance.

And then we would go into her kitchen and prepare all of the food.
She would put a huge spread on the kitchen table.
Cheese and crackers and pepperoni, homemade salsa and chips, veggies and dip,
 a plate of olives and pickles.
Then we would prepare the dinner:
potato casserole,
and ambrosia salad.

My mother-in-law was a baker, as am I.
After the food was prepared, we would sample all of the new cookie recipes that we had each made.

Then we would open a bottle of wine, sometimes one bottle would lead to another.
And we would spend the day talking.
Those were wonderful Christmases.

I am so grateful that my father-in-law gave us this ornament that was so special to my mother-in-law.
Although our relationship was difficult at times, I miss her very much - more than I ever thought I would.
Having it is like having a piece of her with us.
Every time I look at this,
I feel a little closer to her,
like she is watching,
like she is there with us
this Christmas.

My mother-in-law and I 
Christmas 1994
My second Christmas with Jason and his family.