I hung a wreath on the window in the back door (the only door anyone uses here) and put a big red ribbon on the walk gate going into the yard. When I was unpacking the boxes of decorations, I found two that were from my son's early school years. One was a little reindeer made from three old fashioned wooden clothespins and the other was a little wooden rocking horse that his 3rd grade teacher gave to him. I found his Christmas stocking too. It's one I made for him when he was four years old out of quilted calico print material. He added his own touch when he blew holes in the toe of it with a little cap pistol I gave him that Christmas. The cap pistol was the kind that uses the little plastic rings of caps. I had it loaded and at the bottom of the stocking. We had a big corner fireplace in those days with a tall brick hearth around it. On Christmas morning, he climbed up on the hearth to retrieve his stocking and, as most four years old would, he was very enthusiastic when he jumped down off the hearth. The impact when he landed set off the cap pistol and the look on his face was priceless. With eyes wide, he held the stocking at arms length ... you could see just the faintest wisp of smoke escaping from the toe of the stocking. It made quite an impression on him. I got to hear him tell that story to his six year old stepson a few of years ago and he said it was one of his favorite memories of Christmas when he was a kid.
This is going to be a very different Christmas. My son has been gone for eight months and I'm still finding it hard to imagine life without him. His wife and our grandsons live all the way out in Arizona. She won't answer or return our calls and we never hear from her when we send packages to the grandsons. The boys are only 11 and 4 years old. We hope when they get old enough, they will come find us but that's all we can do. With my son gone, his wife doesn't seem to want anything to do with us. My daughter and her husband live about 150 miles away but they are as strapped for cash as we are, so it might as well be 1000 miles. Thank goodness for free nights and weekend minutes on the cell phone and email, so we can at least stay in touch.
Christmas will be like Thanksgiving, just me and Yeoldfurt, but that's enough. I'll put up the tree but there won't be any gifts under it this year. I am grateful to still be here, still hanging on ...that is gift enough.