Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Love Letter to My Daughter At Christmas



I wrote this letter to my elder daughter the year she moved to Florida. That was in 1992 but my sentiments have not changed in all these years.


Dear Jen,

The little people—that’s what your Pepere used to call you and your brothers and sister. Nothing pleased him more than hearing that the little people were coming to see him. Now the four of you are grown and on your own, scattered across the country from one coast to the other and nothing pleases me more than knowing any one of you is coming home, if only for a short visit. You are the first to be married and your new home is far from here. You will not be making the journey to be with me for the holidays.

It is almost Christmas Eve. The tree stands in its customary place, waiting for bits of colored glass and tinsel to work their magic. Each ornament I lift from its nest of tissue evokes some memory of Christmas past. Here’s the small blue angel your Memere gave you when you were just a toddler. With your gold-spun hair and your big blue eyes you looked like an angel yourself. “Let me do it,” you insisted, hanging the trinket on the highest branch you could reach.

Trimming the tree is a task for children. How your eyes sparkled, reflecting the lights your older brothers strung carefully among the branches. I lift a small elf out of the ornament box, a homemade dough creation given to you by your fifth grade teacher and think, “You should be hanging these on the tree, Jen.” Early Christmas morning I will get up before everyone else and turn on the tree lights, remembering the morning so long ago that you sat in your bunny-feet pajamas and gazed at the twinkling lights, saying over and over again, “Isn’t it pretty, isn’t it nice?” I will whisper the words softly to myself and think of you.

For more than twenty years you made Christmas cookies with me, decorating them with gobs of colored frosting and sugar sprinkles. Each year you became more adept at rolling and cutting and decorating. On each gingerbread man I make alone this year I will put a big frosting smile in memory of the little girl who helped at my side.

I hum along with the carols playing on the radio as I work and remember how we sang aloud every Christmas carol we knew as we baked or wrapped gifts or marched from store to store in search of the perfect present. How excited you were on Christmas morning when you and your brothers saw that Santa had come in the night. To this day there’s still a gift “from Santa” under the tree for everyone. This year your perfect present is on its way to you. I can picture the look on your face when you open it and will hear the echo of your voice—“Oh, thank you, Santa and you too, Mom!”—across the miles.

Isn’t it odd that a heart can ache and be joyful at the same time? We will all sit a little closer at the table so your place won’t look so glaringly empty. We will take turns talking to you on the phone, wishing you a happy Christmas. And I will wish this for you, my daughter, that all the joy you’ve brought me through the years will be returned to you a thousand-fold.

Love,
Mom

20 comments:

Molly said...

You brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart with this Pauline....beautifully said.

Tabor said...

It is inevitable that those we love will go on to form their own traditions and travel their own roads and we must send them off with love and the best of wishes. Bittersweet days for us all.

Kristen Haskell said...

Merry Christmas. Some holidays hurt because of distances.

Marion said...

I knew I was going to cry as soon as I saw your post! A lovely letter...I will not be with my daughter and her family this year and there are times it's tough.

It doesn't matter how far-flung families become...it's wonderful when one can count on the love waiting back home.

niamhboyce said...

Just beautiful, and so from the heart. Thankyou, if I can create half the christmas memories you have for my own children, I'd be a happy mother.

Brian Miller said...

oh...smiling....and tearing up...what a beautiful thing you wrote for her...

Helen said...

This is beautiful .....

steven said...

pauline - what a letter! boy oh boy. that's one i would find so very hard to write. but you know what - i'm expecting i shall have to one day! steven

madamebutterfly said...

Lovely post Pauline

Lyn said...

It is clear that you will be together..loving memories...much happiness to you for the Holidays!

Tess Kincaid said...

This brought tears to my eyes. My daughter will be coming home this year, but I know it won't always be this way.

Hilary said...

That's so beautiful, Pauline. Tender and bittersweet.

Pauline said...

Molly - I feel the same way every time I decorate the tree, though now all four kids are gone and I do the task all alone. I usually spend Christmas Day with the grands - this time two of my kids and all 3 of my grands will be in one place. Joy!

Tabor - it's true and I know that with my head but my heart still misses those kids!

Thanks for stopping by Kristen

Marion, occasionally I still cry too!

Thanks for reading niam :)

Brian M - she framed it!

Thanks for reading, Helen

Steven - it was hard to write but helpful to us both at the same time :)

Thanks, madame

Lyn - yes, we're always close at heart :)

Lucky Tess - I will see one of my daughters and one of my sons Christmas Day. The other two are too far away :(

Thank you Hilary - I've written each of them a love letter now since they're all gone from the nest...

Sue J said...

What a beautiful, moving letter for your daughter to treasure. Thanks for sharing :)

deb said...

How incredible is this?

I hope you enjoy every moment with ones near, and I'm sure that those who can't be home know how well they are loved.

Pauline said...

Thanks for coming to read and comment Sue :)

Deb - Christmas is always such a nostalgic time for me now. One (or more) of the kids is always missing. Haven't had them all together for Christmas in years!

Tumblewords: said...

Missing seems to be a larger part of Christmas every year. You've written yours with beauty and love.

Suz said...

what things you pondered while writing this letter
thank you for sharing
and Merry Christmas

Carrie Burtt said...

The heart does have such a great capacity to hold pain and beauty all at once...this is beautiful!

ninotaziz said...

Dear Pauline

Merry Christmas!

http://poemsbyninotaziz.blogspot.com/2010/12/merry-christmas-one-and-all.html