Many of you know my mom passed away this summer. No day will ever be quite the same for me, but especially this season of Christmas, will never be the same — Mom loved Christmas. In the first picture here is an ornament from one of my mother’s and our favorite places in the world (Winona Lake’s Warsaw Cut Glass). It has my mom’s earthly dates on it and this: “She loved Christmas and she loved us”. If you knew my mom, you would know that of course, the Season of Giving was her favorite time of year. I hope she is enjoying playing Broadway show tunes or Christmas songs on some big heavenly piano today as she often did on earth.
The second picture, from a Christmas my Mom spent here in CA with us — well thankfully, Mom is not seeing it, since she would not like how she looks, but it is a good reminder that with True Love, no one really cares how we look, do they? We enjoy very much this whole idea of little poor minority, Jewish baby Jesus in a stable, and then we forget that there were no kings and gifts then, (that we added on later), and there was only fear, and lack, and uncertainty, and ugliness, and nationalism, and loss, and grieving, and pain (childbirth not least among the pain). There was nothing — not even a home. But there was the most important thing. There was true and great Love. And there was Hope. And there was the kind of joy that is deeper than happiness, the kind of joy we like to think that angels sing about.
Oh, yes, this is a lovely season of remembering; not one story about one baby, but all of our stories about love in adversity and love in the good times, and joy in the very present moment. As both Jesus’ ancestors and future religious descendants would advise: “Remember”. “Never forget” “Store these things in your heart.” Remember so you can be present in this moment to the absolute joy that you are alive and have been loved and are loved.
So, as we wrap up a year, and it has been quite a year! — and as we wrap up our gifts for each other, and wrap our arms around each other, and wrap our minds around another year of uncertainty, and loss, and pain, and for so many, too much of nothing or sorrow or need — we need to be reminded — Remember! — that all that ever matters, all that ever remains, is the Love.
Remember the love. Seek the love. Embrace the love. Be the love.
Be the hope for someone today. Be the joy for someone today. And above all–Be the love.
This is a wonderful season to remember that what we really care about are those we love, and to let the people we care about know it. “Taking Care” — that’s really what the whole Christmas story is about, isn’t it? It is a good season to remember that we humans long to worship something or Someone that takes care of us, even if we are naughty and not nice, even if our doubts overwhelm our faith, even if we have erred hugely in our relationships with others and ourselves, even if we, like the little drummer boy, have nothing to give in return . So the question is — if we long for that kind of care and love despite ourselves, and despite the other person, isn’t the message of Christmas about our deep need to give that care and love to others, even the ones we find it hard to love? Didn’t little baby Jesus eventually grow up to tell and live that story?
It’s a good time to remember that Baby Jesus was blessed enough to grow up to be a man, and a good time to read some of the stuff he said when he wasn’t a baby any more. It can rock your world. I’m trying more and more to let it rock mine, but I won’t kid you, it’s not easy, which is another thing we have to remember little baby Jesus the grown-up said. No, true love is not easy. But then, the great and true things in life are worth the price, aren’t they? Isn’t that what we are trying to symbolize with our crazy gift giving and decorating and feasting Holy-days — that Love is priceless? I know my mom believed that. I have read that is what Jesus thought, too.
My mom was a giddy crazy lady around Christmas time. Price tags were meaningless to her. And she had a horrible time waiting for anything. Unlike I, advent and anticipation did not bring her happiness. There was never too much — there was just so much to give! I once mentioned I liked nativity scenes and needed some ornaments for the tree — so Mom would send not one, but three nativity sets and keep sending ornaments and decorations, and yes, more nativity sets, every year. Putting them up this year made me cry those tears you get — you know the ones — where you cry because you are so sad and missing someone but you are sort of smiling and laughing and happy too because you feel so much love still warming up your insides from memories and thoughts of that person, who is also making you cry. Remember. And so it goes.
My kids and husband don’t know it yet, but I also got a little remembrance “thingy” to give them each this Christmas, that commemorates their grandparents, Raoul’s folks, Esther and Gaston Tawil. One year my dearly beloved father-in-law took me to Fedco or Feddies as he called it and we bought some special little fragile Christmas ornaments for the tree. Each year I put the ones that have survived on the tree and think of him. And our first Christmas with our first child, Justine, we flew to D.C. to spend with Gaston and Esty and Uncle Guy and I bought them ridiculous ugly Christmas sweatshirts with something along the lines of Proud Grandmother and Grandfather of Baby’s First Christmas. You can see below how delighted they were to wear those ugly sweaters, even though my mother-in-law had such style and beauty, she wore that ugly thing so proudly. Look at her face below looking at her new granddaughter. There was no one who could squeal with pleasure like Esty Mizrahi Tawil and Gaston would chuckle with delight as he spent time with each of his four dearly loved grandkids. Esty left us all far, far too soon and Gaston is with her and my mom now too. Ah, I miss them so very, very much. But what a lucky, lucky human I am to have such memories to store up in my heart. Never forget.
My mom’s and Raoul’s parents’ wonderful Christmas spirit lives on — especially in their grandkids, my children, who aren’t children any more, but who keep the traditions, keep the good things, do a great job of working on healing the bad things, are incredibly giving humans, and who each live lives that did make and would make their “Gram” and Papa Tawil and Grandma Esty proud.
So yeah, this year we sent a traditional Christmas “brag” letter, because when my mom was bragging about her own children and grandchildren she was happier than anything. I am proud of my husband and my kids, and I am working on being proud of myself. I am proud to be the play-it-forward carrier of my mom, my dad, my grandparents, and my parents-in-law. I miss them so much. I remember and I am here now and I will do my best to carry forward all the love. All the love.
So Merry Christmas and Happiest of New Years to you all. Hug your loved ones close, even if they squirm. Study something or listen to something that brings you both joy and growth. Find forgiveness for others and yourselves for everything. As a different but gloriously similar tradition to the one Jesus believed but which teaches truth as Christ’s many parables taught, let the negative seeds within you go unwatered and nurture the positive seeds that also lie within you so they may grow to the size of huge mustard plants — huge Christmas trees.
Remember the good and the love and let it grow within you, this season, and every day you are blessed to wake up. Whatever you celebrate, celebrate with abandoned joy in the very present precious moment. Take care of yourself. Take care of your loved ones. Take care of strangers. Take care of your enemies. Take care of the world and the planet.
You are loved. You are love. Remember that.
With Love, Jane
Jane Tawel, December 2021
2 thoughts on “A Letter to Remember”
love is white
like a dove
none to see
i heard the bells
and his critical yells
may your mum rip
and the lord
jane as a lily
and do not be
in your missives
Merry Christmas, and wish the Dear soul rest in peace 🙏💐