As in Olden Days
"Where's the music box, Mom?" Tina called. Holly lined the mantel around the snow globes and candles. But where was her favorite, the porcelain sleigh?
Mother came in, forehead puckered. "What? What are you talking about? Here's your coffee, Dear."
"No cream?" Tina took the cup, noting age-spots on Mother's hands.
"Oh! I'm out." Mother's eyes widened. "I've never, ever forgotten your cream."
"It's fine, Mother, thanks." Tina took a sip. "I've been waiting for your coffee."
A smile stretched the wrinkles around Mother's mouth. "Enjoy. You must be tired, traveling so far. Do you like my decorations?"
Tina bit her lip. Had the music box been broken? Misplaced?
But those hands. That forgotten cream. And the mantel seemed dusty, for a Monday. Tina ran a finger along it.
Better not to press about the box, better not to confuse the aged. But oh, it wouldn't be Christmas with no music box and no snow.
Like always, Tina woke and looked toward the dresser. Surely, this year, Mother hadn't - but yes, there sat a sparkly package. And like always, Tina hadn't heard a peep.
She padded over and picked up the box, blinking hard. She might never have this experience again, now that Mother was fading.
Tina gave the box a shake. A rattle, a single clear note, and then strains of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" filled the room.
"I was so afraid you'd guess," Mother said from the door. "I've meant to pass it down to you for years. And look, Dear, it's snowing!"
8 December 2013