Wednesday, December 27, 2006

MoMaher tears and stretchy pants

My mother and father in law came by early to celebrate Christmas last weekend. In true Italian style, we abandoned ourselves to drinking wine and eating Mama Anna's pizza and antipasto. My MoMaher cried her eyes out seven times, which is lucky I guess because she was so chock full of love recalling the events of the past year; the visits to and from Italy, the times spent here with the Italian cousins in October, I guess it's OK to be a maudlin at Christmas. She does that a lot. I call it the MoMaher kind of cry.

I was a little maudlin too. Not the bad kind of maudlin but the good type, because it's this time of year where J.D. and I reflect on the past year and see where the joys and sorrows have taken us. It's always a journey and in it, we usually bear the marks of the year in different ways. Sometimes, we're a little more fit, sometimes we're a little more plump. This year, we're a little more lean, but not much because I made peppermint bark and fudge for Christmas and the prime rib was really good! However, there was those six months of walking that helped a lot. The good times can best be categorized as the good jeans months and the bad can be left to stretchy pants.

What really got to me this Christmas was seeing Dad walk into my house with his walker and short leg braces. He walked all the way from the car into my house and just to see him was a thing of was a gift for Christmas. Then when he lifted his arms from the walker like a little kid letting go for the first time :"look ma, no hands!" Well, it doesn't get any better than that. When he toasted mom and all the family for seeing him through his health crisis last year...we all had a MoMaher moment. He's a different person now, as we all are. We've learned to appreciate each other on such a deeper level.

J.D. & I have two married friends who've been married as long as we have. He's a teacher and she's an artist. They are two of the most wonderful people, giving in every way imaginable, who have suffered the heartbreak of never being able to have children. Their hearts have longed so much for a child and after several years of waiting, the adoption route seemed to be drying up for them. On St. Nicholas Day, their son was born and delivered into their arms just a few days before Christmas. In that respect, the world seemed to finally smile on them and of course, they are over the moon with joy...that really made me cry this Christmas...not the bad of kind of cry, but the MoMaher kind of cry...

When my Aunt Carol died this last year, there was a part of her that left me forever, but her spirit seemed to arrive this Christmas in a package from her sister, my Aunt Mary and my favorite cousin, Jeanne. It was a Christmas care package of love with little gifts that had big meanings. They brought a few MoMaher tears to my eyes because I realized Aunt Carol bonded us all closer together as a family.

As for 2007, that's up to God. He will be there, despite the joys and the sorrows; and this time next year we look back at the year with the same wonder and awe at what has changed about us and those we love. My sister is getting married...that'll be cause for MoMaher kind of tears. We will bear the marks of the year because things happen; it's inevitable. There will be more changes and more MoMaher kind of tears on the horizon. It's OK though. I have my family with me and stetchy pants.

Friday, December 15, 2006

O Holy Night!

December 14, 2006

Christmas…In the early dawn after Christ’s Birth the three chief shepherds came from their hill to the Cave of the Nativity with their presents, which they had gathered beforehand (could it have been the brightness in the sky that led them to this place?) What about the star. It was a sign, greater than they had seen in the sky on any other night. They were accustomed to watching their flocks by night. Their vision was never so clear. This night was like no other. It was a sacred night.

These presents were little animals not unlike tiny roe deer. If they were kids, those in that country look very different from ours here at home. They had long necks, very clear beautiful eyes, and were very swift and graceful. The shepherds also had strings of dead birds hanging over their shoulders and they carried live birds under their arms. When they knocked shyly at the door at the cave (whatever that was made of, a rock, stone or board) St. Joseph came towards them with a friendly greeting. They told him what the angel had announced to them that night, and how they were come to worship the Child of the Promise and to present their poor gifts to him. Joseph took their gifts with humble gratitude, and made them take the animals into the little chamber (the entrance of which is by the southern door of the cave). Then he accompanied them into the cave itself and led the three shepherds up to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was sitting on the coverlet on the ground by the Crib, holding the Infant Jesus before her on her lap. The shepherds, holding their staffs in their hands, threw themselves humbly on their knees before Jesus, weeping for joy. They had remained a long time speechless with happiness and then began to sing the angel’s hymn of praise which they had heard in the night, and as they prayed and sang the psalms of joy, they felt an inner peace they had not known before. When they got up to take their leave, the Virgin put the little Jesus into their arms one after the other. They gave Him back to her with tears and left the cave forever changed by this night, this place, their experience and the touch of the baby’s skin against their hearts, His Heart only beating on earth for less than 12 hours touched theirs inexplicably.

What they came away with was a Gift greater than the small gifts they bore, however the most acceptable gift they presented was their faith. In that holy place, on this Holy Night, they bore their faith and laid it at His tiny feet. It was the most acceptable gift and as they laid their hearts bare, He blessed them and changed them in an instant and though their visit was brief, His impression on them was eternal.

May the Infant bless you and your family this Christmas and may the humble joy of the Holy Night remain with you throughout the New Year. Merry Christmas!

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and biweekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her by email at or on the web at