It is Friday morning. I hear the rain outside, but it is too dark to see. Since this is South Carolina, precipitation usually means it is warm. It may bring a cold front, but that will be crisp dry air that will make my hair stand up when I take off my hat. That's ok. It is Christmas, and it should be cold.
Yesterday, I went Christmas shopping. I've done it before, but it's always an adventure. My brother and I went to the Village at Sandhill, which as my son points out, is not really a village, even if it does have a horse and carriage ride. I've seen places like this in other cities, and it always makes me feel as if I am in Disney World, without the water rides. I expect to see Goofy and Cinderella. I don't. I do hear every version of little drummer boy ever made, but that's not necessarily a bad thing... once a year.
Two years ago, I was sick at Christmas time. Really sick. For two days before and two days after Christmas, I lay in bed and whimpered. Since I am a last minute Christmas person, many gifts went unwrapped if not unbought. Christmas eve, I arranged the presents, crying because I couldn't get it done. My husband didn't seem to see the problem, and that of course, made it worse. Christmas morning, I left the bed to watch my children open their gifts. Someone opened mine for me and I went back to bed while the rest of them went off to my parents' house and then to my husband's parents' house. I threw up and went to bed.
For a few weeks afterward, I found presents that had not been delivered. I handed them over with a shrug and an apology. "Sorry, I was sick. I lost 20 lbs." (Always looking on the bright side.) "There will always be next year."
It was my mother's last Christmas. She was sicker than I was. I couldn't see her, because I couldn't take the chance of infecting her in her weakened condition. And of course, we really didn't expect that to be her last Christmas.
Today, I work, and get a paycheck to pay for some of my Christmas spirit. Then I go out again and shop some more. I am not sick; no one is, praise god. I will make my husband wrap presents or at least bring me rum-soaked eggnog as I wrap them. He may not see the point, but, god as my witness, he's going to pretend he does. I will see my father and siblings; think of my in-laws in Antarctica and Wild Dunes; and sing one more version of Little Drummer Boy.