Unannounced visitors aren’t necessarily my favorites, mainly because I don’t always live organized and clutter free. I can pull it together given adequate notice, but spur of the moment isn’t my forte. Likely it’s a genetic thing. My mother was the same way. She believed cleanliness was next to godliness, as did the nuns who taught both my mother and me. But regarding “stuff and such,” Mom’s standards weren’t as meticulous.

Joan was the charming exception to my “please call first before stopping by” friend. She tooled around town in her convertible, or if the weather wasn’t cooperating, her more traditional car. Either way, the back seat was stacked with books featuring various literary genres; the latest magazine article she believed someone needed to read; and scrumptious desserts from markdown racks in her favorite bakeries. Various size pots and pans, filled with her just cooked creative concoctions of homemade soup, were positioned on the floor. When the soup finished simmering, she’d load her car, and visit friends to drop off back seat treasures.

She never noticed or cared about someone’s messy house. Her interest was in a good cup of coffee and lively conversation. Sometimes she’d accept a to-go snack, particularly potato salad, corn bread, or bean soup. One December afternoon she dropped in as my granddaughters and I were enjoying a “fancy party.” She just happened
by bringing decorated cookies and a Santa cake. The timing of her spontaneous visit was perfect, almost like one of Santa’s elves making deliveries.

Such spontaneity isn’t possible for Joan any longer. The ravages of dementia, after effects of a car accident, and continued decline from 80 plus years of living have curtailed her outings. I so miss her unexpectedly ringing my doorbell to come in for a visit, especially at this time of year.

December is overflowing with music, movies, TV specials, advertisements and messages about holiday joys. As our priorities change, we discover what we’d really like for Christmas is rarely something that can be bought, even in upscale stores. For me, it’s about the people I’d love to visit with, not giving one care about them dropping
in without calling first.

It’s been 25 years since my Dad was in my house. I’d so enjoy preparing his favorite foods for dinner. We’d have Christmas carols playing in the background, and he and my Mom could visit in amazement with their three grown grandchildren and spouses. I’d make certain to have Fannie Mae chocolates so they could share them and
Thumbprint cookies with my seven grandchildren whom they’ve never met. We’d have eggnog sprinkled with nutmeg, and clink decorative glasses in a toast to being together.

Even the magic and wonder of Santa Claus can’t make those wishes come true. Some folks let the inevitable sadness that exists when loved ones are no longer able to join in holiday celebrations outweigh the beauty and goodness of Christmas. We can bundle up our precious memories, honoring those who used to be in our lives through the hospitality we now extend to guests gathering for our celebrations.

For my parents, Joan, and many other loved ones, I’m grateful for wonderful memories, and wish those sharing my life today the gifts of beautiful holidays filled with peace and good will.

Sandra Dempsey Post



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