This Mother is Mine, At Christmas and Forever

(This is Part 5 of 5, of ‘The Way of Three Mothers at Christmas‘)

My other two mothers, the ones whose stories have been told, were Rida and Ada. Naturally, following my rather far-fetched reasoning process, these names came from the Magi.

the Armenians have Kagpha, Badadakharida and Badadilma

Rida from Badadakharida; Ada from Badadilma.

I’ve saved the name Kagpha for my ‘real’ mother. It suits her well.

As Christmas approached each year, Kagpha grew slightly more frozen than usual. Thanksgiving was a task managed, but then Christmas arrived so quickly.

The important things about Christmas to Kagpha were that it not be celebrated as a religious holiday (for she did not like churches) and that there be a tree – one that was not real (too messy) – and that it be covered with ornaments that were artistic and ‘different’.

She mostly looked forward to the holiday as a time when there would be the chance to travel home, or to where home was as a child – where her brother and his wife and children lived. This took all pressure off the holiday, for her brother’s wife was (as she noted with a certain tone in her voice) a ‘housewife’. This meant that Kagpha would be able to sit on the couch in her more and more frozen-like state, as the activity went on around her, without her participation.

Kagpha may have suffered from depression. Or, it may also have been what her brother claimed: That she was simply a deeply selfish person.

Things got worse than mere frozen-ness, as Christmas came along over the years. Instead of frozen-ness Kagpha had a sense of airy-ness – as if she simply wasn’t there. Then there was a switch, and Christmas-time became a time to celebrate the season as a Wiccan. My mother had decided she was a witch.

She gathered women around her for pagan lunches and dinners, and flaunted jewelry with bold symbols hung over her black dresses that would make those who practiced more traditional religions cringe with fear and distaste. Her anger grew outward.

But these times passed, and being a witch turned out to be not all it was chalked up to be, for Kagpha. The pagan celebrations were discarded, and in their place was nothing.

The last Christmas I remember with Kagpha, she said she did not want to cook. She did not want to buy presents. She did not want to do anything, she said – but the undertones in her voice belied the words.

So I made a dinner. A ham, some vegetables – fresh and good. Two desserts. And I brought it to Kagpha and hoped it would make her happy.

It did, but then there was the ham bone to deal with. The ham bone. Kagpha wanted to know if I wanted the ham bone. Why, yes – I said. I’ll take it home with me next time I see you, if that’s okay. I don’t really feel like carrying a ham bone home right now. Could you stick it in the freezer?

Kagpha’s freezer was empty but for two packages of Stouffer’s Welsh Rarebit, so I thought that would be okay.

But the ham bone was not to be forgotten. The ham bone was in her freezer, and it bothered her. The phone calls started coming every few days, then every day, then several times a day.

When are you coming to get the ham bone? Kagpha would ask. The ham bone is in my freezer! she would say, with hints of anger at the edges of her voice. How long do you expect me to keep this here???!!! she would close-to-shriek, over the telephone – the telephone which I now feared to answer.

Gathering my courage to face Kagpha, my mother, my only real mother – I called her. Please throw it away, I said. I don’t want it. Thanks, for the freezer space.

Christmas. It had come down to a ham bone which had somehow transformed into a scapegoat, for Kagpha.

Kagpha’s gift offered was the chance to develop empathy. There is often someone around who may need it.

Each mother has a Christmas food associated with her. Rida: Sausage Bread. Ada: A dish of rich delicious bitter greens with garlic. Kagpha: Well – nothing will ever erase that ham bone from my memory, that is certain.

I’ve had three mothers at Christmas. I’ve been lucky in that way.


4 thoughts on “This Mother is Mine, At Christmas and Forever

  1. The white branches, red gems photograph is chilling and depressing, a close fit to the Kagpha story.

    I want to compliment the Aesthetist on your blog staff who chooses the images to accompany posts. He or she an has ethical/moral dowsing rod tucked inside the steady ironical pose.

  2. Thanks, ReaderX.

    Usually Katerina la Vermintz is in charge of Aesthetics. It keeps her busy, which then keeps her from telling the same old stories about The Revolution over and over and over again.

  3. Much like Kagpha, I more or less evaporate for the holidays. Although I’m physically present, there is no way do discern by watching me that there is anything unusual going on. (I do buy a wreath every year from a nice old lady who makes them and has managed to track me down every December for the past 15+ years, but this has nothing to do with Christmas. I would purchase a wreath in the middle of July if she showed up hawking them.)

    Anyway, I just finished wrapping up a ham bone less than 30 minutes ago! It was too large for my tiny dogs, and I don’t contemplate making soup or beans with it. So I decided to save it for my GF’s daughter’s SO’s son Thomas, (my de facto grandkids step and half brother), who has a large dog. I wasn’t sure whether or not to put it in the freezer, but after reading this piece I decided to put some psychological distance between Kagpha and I, and so l left in the refrigerator.

  4. Kagpha was set on low simmer for many years, SB – ready for an internal combustion that never quite fully happened.

    I don’t get that sense from you.

    Besides, if you ever started being like that I am sure the Pomeranian would snap you out of it quickly.

    Pomeranians are superheroes in that way, each one of them. 🙂

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