From My Mother at Christmas


This is a repost of something I did on my other site, PattiKen and the Muses, last year at this time.  It seems appropriate to do it again this year.


From My Mother at Christmas

The year I was nine years old, my mother lost her life to a sudden cerebral hemorrhage two weeks before Christmas. I think about her every year at this time.

I was so young when she died, I didn’t really get to know her. I can’t remember anything she told me back then that could have helped me on my way, but, now, I hear much she might have said. I think perhaps she’s been telling me things all along; I just didn’t know to listen.

Daughter, as you grow up and go out into the world, make sure to make some noise.  Laugh like a child.  Swear like a trooper when it’s needed. Speak what’s on your mind.  Be opinionated, and let the world know what your opinions are, even if it disagrees and wants to debate you over them.

Dress outrageously if it pleases you, and live up to your clothes. Wear stiletto heals. Wear plaids with stripes.  Wear your favorite T-shirt until it disintegrates.  Wear your individuality with confidence.

Picture your fantasy, and make it come true.

Take risks. Do the things you dream but don’t dare.  Climb up a mountain. Jump from an airplane. Dive down to the ocean floor.  Go to Tibet and and hunt for Shangri-la. Go to the movies alone.

Be whatever you want to be.  Be an astronaut.  Be a ballet dancer.  Be the President. Be a revolutionary.  Be true to yourself.  Be proud.

Don’t be afraid to express yourself.  Paint a picture. Write a novel. Throw a pot.  Weave a rug.  Dance with abandon. Sing loudly as though you could carry a tune.

Talk to children and to old folks; both have a lot to tell you. Talk to strangers. Talk to animals. Talk to yourself.

Share your journey with good friends.  Share your good fortune with those less fortunate.  Share your expertise with anyone who needs it.  Share your life with someone you love madly.

Marry a prince. Marry a poet.  Marry a doctor, a lawyer, or an Indian chief.  Marry your very best friend.

Explore your talents. Play the piano. Play hostess at the party of the year and wow them with your culinary skills.  Play tennis like a pro.

Be competitive, but play fair.  Play Scrabble with your husband, and let him win now and then. Play dress-up with your children and love them unconditionally.  Play on the floor with your grandchildren and spoil them every chance you get.

Live with love and laughter and joy.  Live your life fully and without fear. Daughter, live your life as if I were still in it.

I hear you, Mom. Merry Christmas.

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19 Responses to From My Mother at Christmas

  1. Mxwll says:

    I hear you, mom. Joyous Yule.

  2. Neva Flores says:

    Your mother must have been a tremendous woman. She may not have had much time with you but she left you with some incredible jewels of knowledge.

    • PattiKen says:

      Thanks, Neva. I guess that’s a benefit of not remembering much of anything about what she taught me except for the obvious “do good and avoid evil” kind of things. I get to attribute everything I would hope to have learned to her.

  3. It’s a good message. You shared this with a generous spirit and I thank you. It’s all in you and it came from somewhere. I think you’re right about your Mom speaking to you in many ways. Good listening.

  4. souldipper says:

    Or maybe you wear “not so odd” clothes and are not afraid to listen to your intuition. The important thing is – do you feel you’ve had a visit with your mom?

    • PattiKen says:

      No, I’m sorry to say, I don’t. In my supposition of what she might have taught me, I am conjuring up the perfect mother (for me), and I suspect that, like most of us, she would have found that an impossible role to fill.

      • Well, we parents are always in process too. We do our best and can only assume our own parents did the same.

        She died too young – maybe to young to know who she was – and certainly too soon for you to know.

        She looks like a lovely and kind woman. One assumes you hold some cellular memory (see Christian Northrup) of her values.

        In its way, really Patti, this is a wonderful homage.


    • PattiKen says:

      I intended it as homage, Jamie. But you are right. I really didn’t know her at all. She was “mother,” that presence we take for granted as children as a fact of life. And since I still am not sure who I am, I would be surprised if she did. We all just do the best we can.

  5. Baino says:

    Aww sorry to hear it Patti and as a fellow ‘orphan’ Christmas is bittersweet. Wise words whoever they belong to.

    • PattiKen says:

      Thanks, Helen.

      I have always gone way overboard with Tradition (capital T). I know I am compensating for having none in my life, but they are traditions my kids will never forget.

      They will also never question who I am or what I would say or do. That’s the beauty of having a few years on you.

  6. 2zpoint says:

    Great stuff Patti!
    She’s part of you… you know…that voice and urge from inside is just as much hers as it is yours and it will always be so. Peace be with you and have a merry Christmas!

  7. Titanium says:

    These words you’ve recounted are nearly a word for word echo of things I’ve said aloud to Des. This sent a shiver down my spine and filled me with awe, all at once. Always know this: the things you feel and see and believe do exist. They live.

    Our teeny-tiny family holiday tradition is Jeff taking his “girls” out to eat for Thanksgiving. I know, it sounds weird. He’s a chef. But somehow, it’s US. And Des is always welcome to wear her favorite tee-shirt, mismatched socks and stretched out favorite capris. Because traditions are about PEOPLE, not clothes. We all join hands and say a few words about what we are most thankful for; there’s nothing else I could ask for.

    Oh, how I love these words of yours. My heart aches for the little-girl-you, losing your mom when you were so very young. Just know, always know, that in some strange way… she is not so very far away. Every time a mom holds her daughter a little closer, then gently encourages her to fly… she (and you) are remembered.

    • PattiKen says:

      Thank you, dear friend. I love the description of your Thanksgiving. That little vignette speaks volumes about the blessings you have. No wonder you are thankful.

      Nothing that happens in my family seems to be “teeny-tiny.” It’s all big and boisterous. But there are some teeny-tiny moments that I grab as they pass by during the holidays and tuck them away to visit over and over. Those are the best of the holidays for me.

      Have a warm (important!) and wonderful holiday, Ti.

  8. Just stopped by to see if you have posted a new one and to wish a blessings on Christmas Eve and always.

    Hope you are having a fine time with family and friends.

    Merry Christmas!

  9. Wow, Patti, was browsing around in here and just found this sad and beautiful testament to your mom. How terrible to lose a mother at age nine and at Christmas. She looks lovely in the photo and I see you in her:) And I’ll bet those things you wrote did come from the wisdom of her spirit, that she wanted you to know. Beautifully written and a great manifesto for Life! Way to be!

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