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A Christmas Memory...

By Alice M. Batzel

          For most of my adult Christmases, I've been two thousand miles from home, missing my parents and other family members, and longing to be with them. Each year I hoped I could send a gift that would show my love and heartfelt wish to be with them, and a desire for them to have a Merry Christmas. One December, I found a gift that showed that sentiment. It was a pillow that had a cross-stitched expression, "ALL HEARTS COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS." I sent that to my Mother for Christmas that year.

          Some years later when my Mother passed away, I sat in a storage bay on a quiet summer afternoon helping my sister go through the remaining personal belongings Mother had during her last year. It was then that I found a treasure. I found the Christmas pillow. No one had wanted it. It wasn't of monetary value; it wasn't the silver tea service or heirloom jewelry that some families would prize. It didn't appeal to anyone's style. For whatever reason, the pillow had been unclaimed, discarded, and set aside in case someone would want it, perhaps the person who had given it to her. To me, it was priceless because Mother had loved it and set it out each year at Christmas time. Whenever I would telephone to wish her a "Merry Christmas," Mother would tell me that she had placed her pillow where she could see it all December long. She said that she knew I wished we could be together and that she loved me. I sat in Mother's rocking chair and held the pillow to my heart. Oh, how I wished I had come home for Christmas all those many years, knowing that she and I would have loved to spend it together. But I was raising a family far away and could not afford holiday travel. Now, time was gone, and so was Mother. I packed the pillow and mailed it to my home two thousand miles away.

          Each December since then, I place the Christmas pillow in a prominent location in our front room. The stitched words herald to one and all, whoever catches sight of it, and it often sparks a conversation among visitors. Now I'm a grandmother, and I frequently miss my children and grandchildren. On some December days, I sit in my rocking chair, pick up that Christmas pillow and hold it to my heart. Somehow I just know that Mother, too, must have held it over her heart, all the while knowing the truth. What truth? From the day I first saw the pillow, and from the day she first received it, she and I would forever know that no matter the miles that keep loved ones apart, when there is love, "ALL HEARTS COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS."

(copyright 12/10/2017 - Alice M. Batzel - all rights reserved)

(Photo credit: From the Facebook page of The Christmas Cottage.)

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