It's been difficult this Christmas, deciding on gifts for my mother. She has told both my brother and I that she wants us to get her nothing - she's been adamant about it - and we just nod, knowing that of course, we'll get her something...but what? Practical is for the birds, during this year of lung cancer -- so my brother and I decided upon one of those services that send flowers to a person each month of the year. In January she'll receive a white amaryllis, in February daffodils, and you get the picture. The gift is optimistic - flowers always are - and when it came time to chose whether we wanted the 3-,6-, or 12-month subscription, of course we had to chose the one that lasted the entire year. My brother and I also wanted to give her some small gifts - things to open on Christmas morning - and so today I went to work on those. I couldn't resist making this 'citrus gift box' straight from my own garden: one Meyer's lemon (just starting to turn yellow) and five satsumas. This will make my mother laugh, and I can see her now, shaking her head as she tells her friends what I gave her.
The other gifts I've been working on for awhile now - slowly scanning in slides, a few at a time, taken during my childhood - and today I printed out five images and framed them for her. There is a photograph of her holding my brother, who looked less than one - they're sitting in a chair with my father's family farm as the back drop. Another is of my mother, when she was about 25, putting an ornament on a small red cedar - and then one from a few years before that, of my mother and father on their honeymoon (my father is looking h-a-p-p-y). Then there are two of me - one with me wearing cherry red tights and white mary janes, a pleated blue skirt and white sweater - and a big football helmet. I'm hiking the football to one of my brother's friend, and behind me are a row of older boys from my childhood (including my brother on the far right) - all of them tolerating this little girl in the middle of their game (I have to wonder: was there some foreshadowing going on...?). The final image is of one of my birthdays, with me and a cake baked by my mother - surrounded by my best childhood friend, my brother and his close friend, and a cousin. We looked as if we wanted cake, but we also looked like we were imagining what we were going to do after the cake, and I can't help but think that it was something...bad.
I'm glad that my citrus was ripe - hell, I'm glad that my citrus was even alive - because my mother will open the box and know that it is from her daughter - yes, the one that she has never quite understood, and whose contradictions have always puzzled her. The one in the red tights demanding to play football with her brother and his friends, and the one who grows everything, just like her mother.