In thinking of the soon-to-be Thanksgiving holiday, I remember a quiet time spent with my mother a few days before she passed away.  Cuddled within one of her hand-knitted afghans, she sat to the side of her favorite burgundy velvet rocking chair.  We played a game of sorts, both of us tip-toeing around the elephant in the room.

Thanksgiving was only a few short days away, with Christmas coming soon afterward.  Only God knew for sure, but I suspected that my mother would not be sharing either holiday with the whole of our family.  Moving two steps back while taking one step forward, I pretended like everything was the same as the year before.  Except nothing was the same.  Not even close.  My mother was dying.

So what game was I playing a few days before Thanksgiving?  “Christmas Is Coming Early!”  Unwrapping a few decorations to delight my mother’s tiring eyes, I lit the fireplace mantle in sparkling miniature white lights.  Next I pulled a tiny tree from a new box, fluffing the faux branches of dark green up and down and to the right or to the left.  I wanted it to look perfect before placing it atop the red brick and stone hearth of the fireplace.  “Do you like it, Mom?”  I asked.  She nodded, “Yes.”

Next, I carried a box of decorations from my parent’s garage storage area.  There, I discovered some of Mother’s favorites, including various Christmas dolls made of porcelain dressed in ruffled red velvet or shades of green taffeta.  Atop their breakable heads were wigs made of mohair dyed in blonde, brunette or dark red, the color of wine. Looking at me, they smiled with eyes of glass blue.  Each had tiny hands with long, delicate fingers of polish that shined in the light.  Clasping their silk strings carefully, I held them to the rose-colored lamp in order for Mother to get a better view.   “Where should we display them?” I asked.

I waited for her then, but no response.  Instead, I saw slight hints of clear tears in the corner of her eyes.  My heart broke then.  I had tried to pretend…but the game was over.  I had drawn the wrong card, it seemed.  “Do Not Pass GO,” it read.

“I don’t want to see them,” my mother said, barely able to speak.  “Look around,” she motioned, waving her arms about the room.  “Everything you see is just stuff,” she whispered, with all her strength and all her might.

One of my greatest Life Lessons came during the end of my mother’s days.  Nothing is greater in all of this living world than FAMILY.  Remember this during Thanksgiving Day and each day afterward.  Everything else is just…..Stuff.


27 thoughts on “Stuff

  1. I love this sweet and touching story about your mother’s last Christmas. I enjoyed the bittersweet part, you knowing it would be her last, but still wishing her to have the very best time. It made me get teary eyed, Kim. I am so moved by how you told this beautiful way you celebrated with your dear angel of a mother. She gave you her final lesson, not wishing to see the porcelain dolls she had always cherished, they were just ‘stuff.’
    Thank you, Kim for sharing this powerful lesson for each of us as we turn the corner from November into the Season of Christ.


    • Robin, such a beautifully written comment from you, welling my eyes with tears. Yes, indeed, a lesson to be learned by the two of us. We never know how, when or why, God teaches us, do we?


  2. A beautiful lesson, I am sorry that you lost your Mother, sometimes the holidays can be hard when faced with the loss of a family member. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving day together.


    • Thank you so very much. Thought I was finished writing about her for a while until some early morning shopping had to be done. The stores were full of people ‘fighting’ over frivolous “stuff.”


  3. If nothing is more important than family, I say “Hello beautiful sis” (much younger Sis of course). Your Mother wasn’t going to let the chance of a lesson slip by. The decoration is only stuff but stuff that can also bring pleasure year after year as it did for her. I think some stuff has a value but it’s timing that counts.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx.


    • Truly, David. She lived my whole life ‘acquiring’ her beloved dolls, trying to fill the ‘little girl’ inside of her with what she never received during a poor childhood. Yes, she finally ‘got it,’ and wanted me to ‘get it,’ too. My other thought is, knowing how much she loved them, it hurt to let them go. At that point they too became just, “Stuff.”


  4. Hi Kim. Such a deeply moving post and I’m sorry for your loss. Have you read: Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom? If not, I think you’d really enjoy it. It’s about his conversations with his old professor about life etc while he is dying from ALS. I have re-read it a few times. Morrie really stresses the importance of relationship and family in particular. By the way, I reblogged a post which is a letter from a mother to her 10 year old daughter with a series of life lessons which I thought was excellent xx Rowena


    • Thank you so much, Rowena. Yes, I have read, “Tuesdays With Morrie,” and absolutely loved it. But, it’s time to pick it up again, thanks to your reminder! I’m also going to check out your Reblog. It sounds so beautiful, something truly meaningful to me. Thank you for everything, Rowena. Friends like you are priceless. Blessings for a peaceful Thanksgiving.


      • Hi Kim,
        Another great book is: “Letters to Sam”. I mentioned it on a recent post. It was written by a grandfather to his grandson. the grandfather was a psychologist who became a quadriplegic through a car accident and during the course of the book his grandson was diagnosed with a form of autism PDDNOS. It is a fabulous book.
        We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia but it was a weird day for me because I was having my brain MRI and while I was there I heard the news that cricketer Phillip Hughes died after being hit in the neck with a cricket ball. It hit Australians and seemingly people around the world pretty hard. Even Elton John gave him a tribute in a concert.
        Blogging has really opened up my world and allowed me to make friendships around the world which mean the world to me and it’s been particularly great to meet you. When you’ve been through a bit, you have a greater understanding an connection with others who have traveled a similar road. Take care and best wishes,


      • Thanks for the mention of the book, “Letters to Sam.” I have not heard of it and will certainly want to read such a moving tale. Can’t begin to imagine the tragic death of Phillip Hughes, how impossible it seems to have been….God does indeed decide when it is ‘our time.’ Never for us to question or understand although so very hard. Thank you for your kind words, Roweena, it is truly a pleasure in getting to know you, as well. How lucky we are to have this forum. I feel similar to you. Blogging has ‘opened’ my eyes to areas of the world never seen before, together with with wonderful souls who live within it. We are truly blessed, Ro! Happy weekend to you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • To expand on that theme, two amazing people died this week in Sydney during the siege in the Lindt Cafe, in Martin Place. I’ve written about it on my blog. So, so tragic!


      • Kim, I seemed to write quite a few posts as the tragedies just kept getting worse last week. I usually don’t comment on political or public events but I didn’t really think I could not in this instance. I have a heart and I just couldn’t pretend nothing has happened and keep wriitng about the usual stuff and go ahead with our Christmas without thinking of those who have lost so much. A friend of mine is a Barrister in the same chambers as Katrina Dawson. The other day he got a FB message form a friend saying she was scared just going out to get a coffee and didn’t know where she should go. He advised her to get a camomile tea. I like his logic and his humour. I friend of mine said she wished some muscly marshal; arts dude had been in there and I was glad my friend wasn’t there. He worked out in case he needs to defend himself from clients and he was in the reserves. He would have been that hero and might have been shot. He has a wife and two young kids. So much to leave behind. I haven’t been into Sydney on account of my broken foot but have been reading online and hearing stories through friends. The wife and daughter of the NSW Police Commissioner had been in cafe an hour beforehand. It has affected all of Sydney. Anyway, I need to get to bed. We’re on school holidays and I’d already up against it with the broken foot. Hope your Christmas preparations are going well. xx Rowena


      • Unfortunately this happens everywhere, here in the states too. People afraid to sip on a cup of tea or brew a pot of coffee for fear of what might come next? I try to not dwell on it, to move forward and go on about my life. If not, surely I’d be living in a deep, dark hole. With Christmas coming soon together with the celebration of new life, we have every reason in the world to focus on the positive, to believe that God, indeed sent us a “Miracle.” The future is ours to behold. Blessings, Roweena.


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