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Essays by Karen Anderson: Tell Me

Illustration by Kacie Brown

My mother loved Christmas. The decorating began early and covered every available surface—holly on the banister, stockings on the mantel, candles on the tables. My father used to joke that the electric bill went down because we lit the house with candles.

She baked, too, and I helped. First, there were little loaves of cranberry and pumpkin bread, plus little fruitcakes, which we gave as gifts. Next were the endless batches of sugar cookies cut into stars, reindeer, snowmen, Santas—and elaborately decorated. I made myself sick on frosting.

The gifts were gorgeously wrapped and too generous. There was no stopping my mother at Christmas. We gave up trying.

I miss my mother—especially during the holiday season. She died at age sixty-one and I’ve lived most of my life without her. She was a fragile and immature woman who drank too much, spent too much, died too young. And I miss her.

So, what I most want for Christmas is for someone to say, “Tell me about your mom.”

It might be the gift everyone was waiting for, that invitation: “Tell me about your mom or your dad or your childhood Christmases—anything. Just tell me.”

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.