Have you ever realized that it is usually in retrospect that something that sounds like a grand plan at the time is actually fraught with stupidity? There are some things in my past that are just too damn depressing to keep writing about. Personally I really would rather not go there. I would rather write about some of my past exploits and adventures that at the time I should have never undertaken, but didn’t realize until after the fact that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea.
For example, there is that whacked over idea that once my parents died there place was at the cemetery even though between you, me, and the bed post I KNOW only their remains are there. Their souls took off to heaven or wherever they go when they drew the last breath. Technically I can’t follow them to heaven for a visit, so I do the next best thing and march my happy butt out to the cemetery. My folks loved the twinkle of Christmas lights. They both used to deck the halls to the hilt so when my mom died it seem appropriate to take a Christmas tree to the cemetery and light it up with Christmas tree lights on Christmas Eve night. My dad attached huge batteries and had it down to a science so that Mom’s little tree would remain lit most of the night despite the cold which can be a real battery sucker. After she died, my family would visit the cemetery, light her lights, then head to my Dad’s house for a huge Christmas feast followed by the opening of mountains of presents. On the way home after the festivities, my husband and I would stop by the cemetery to retrieve the tree.
After my Dad joined my mom at the cemetery, my husband and I were determined to carry on the tradition. The only problem was that we were no longer out and about on Christmas Eve. We would bundle up and take the tree out to the grave site about 5 PM and then go home. The year my Dad died, I waited till almost bed time Christmas Eve night and decided I would go pick the tree up. My daughter decided to go with me, and my husband elected to stay home. To me, up until that point, going to the cemetery was the same as going to my folk’s house to see them. Maybe a little colder and a little darker, but you get the idea. It was no big deal. I pulled into the pitch dark cemetery and drove back to where my parents graves were, parked, and my daughter and I got out and leisurely strolled out to their tombstone in the moonlight as if we didn’t have a care in the world.
I stopped before their stone and with tears in my eyes I wished them both a Merry Christmas again. As I picked up the tree, I distinctly heard voices say Merry Christmas. I glanced at my daughter, and she glanced at me. “Did you hear that?” I asked nervously.
Her eyes were as big as saucers as she answered “Yes”. There was no one else around. “Mommy?” she said obviously terrified.
I freaked out, and by the look of my daughter she was on the train to freak town right along with me. A chill ran up my spine. Holding the tree in one hand, I grabbed her hand with the other and raced hell bent for election through the snow and obstacle course of tombstones to the car. As we ran we heard other voices whispering “Merry Christmas!” I can honestly say that the experience scared the living be Je$us out me. I almost $hit myself. We got in the car, locked the doors, and sped out of the cemetery as if the hounds of hell were licking at our tires.
In retrospect, I realized the tree could stay where it was till morning. For every Christmas since, the tree has remained at the cemetery until Christmas day and when the roads were especially bad and the snow deep, it remained till after New Years. In retrospect, you locate a few brains, gain a smidgeon of common sense that you previously didn’t possess, and learn not to provoke the bloody ghost of Christmas past until next time when I give you another glimpse into the life of a trucker’s wife.