It’s a chilly Redwood City morning.  The Christmas lights twinkle.  I’m drinking my coffee and reading about how to manage a dysfunctional Christmas – this may be the year I don’t break into tears.  yeah, right.

Mom’s not here.  And though I hope, I don’t "know" where she is.  I mean, I know where she is.  But more immediately and painfully, I know where she’s not.

Chiquita, the beautiful, bossy, white, Mexican street cat, wants attention.  She leaps into my lap.  But, she’s older now.  She misses by a foot.  And by that I mean her foot lands in my cup of coffee.  And we both leap then. 

This has been the saddest December I have known.  Duh.  Of course it has.  It’s the tension.  The many tensions.  Work – not going swimmingly; the "firsts" without Mom.  Birthday and tree decorating and knitting Christmas and holiday and music and then, the presents.  What do you get for someone who’s dead? 

Christmas cards are coming in for Mom from people I forgot to tell.  And should I send them a note in the return Christmas card about her death?  Should I wait until after the holidays?  How do people handle this?

And I want to send cards, but don’t know what to say.  Merry Christmas?  I want others to have one, but how can I say that when I know now that sometimes it’s absolutely impossible.  Oh, I say it.  I tell people.  I know others don’t need my sad baggage.  They will have their own one day, if they don’t already.

The joy, the happy, the cheer of the holidays it was made by my Mom who really got it.  She knew that we needed a time when the normal was put aside.  The important thing was to be together.  To look at shiny.  To bake some sweet.  To be together.  To play.

We had a beautiful (to my little eyes) nativity set that came out.  It had this filmy white material that was, surely from heaven, that we placed on the roof.  It was cool.  It was snow.

It disappeared after the first fire, I think.  I haven’t opened the box with the one Mom replaced it with many years later.  I have my Advent wreath and candles out.  I’ve not lit the candles.  On the little trea is an ornament I made in 1977 – a paint it and bake it shrinky dink of the nativity.  It’s childishly colored and glaringly tacky.  It will have to do and it does.