A Merry Christmas with my mom

April 1970
Me and Mom in April 1970, when I would have been 3 1/2 and she would have been 26. On her Facebook page, regarding this photo, she said: “Chris should use that sweet little boy face on his Facebook. It would be hard for anyone to get mad at that face.” Thanks, Mom.

The way my mom teased me Christmas night, you’d think she had come across in recent blog posts as more Joan Crawford than JoAnn Steinbach.

Nothing could be further from the truth. She knows this. And so does anyone who really knows me. Or her.

But that didn’t stop her from teasing me that I’d made her out to be an unfit mother by telling the world she hadn’t put up a Christmas tree or rolled out the holiday welcome mat.

I pointed out that I could have blogged about the fact that — not only was there no tree — but that I had no gifts to open on Christmas morning.

Without missing a beat, she said I had been on Santa’s naughty list and hadn’t been nice enough. Better luck next year.

Not that any of this is surprising. After all, she put up with Dad for more than 40 years, so she’s well suited to handle anything I might say or do. And it’s worth pointing out she is the woman who put a corn cob in each of the stockings hung over the fireplace for my brothers and me to prove a point one Christmas when, I’m sure, we really had been naughty.


But she was never a Joan Crawford type of mother. In fact, I’ll be heading home today with a pan of homemade bread she baked Christmas Day just for me.

I write often about Dad and the many things I learned from working alongside him on the farm where I grew up. But my parents were partners in the truest sense and I owe just as much to Mom. Whatever skill I may demonstrate on this blog from time to time is due, in large part, to her. She was the one who brought books home and encouraged me to read them. She bought the art supplies and encouraged me to use them. I’m sure she was the first person to tell me I could write well even though I probably didn’t believe her.

These were things Dad tolerated, but probably never fully understood. I’m sure it drove him crazy when I’d going running to the house to sketch an idea for a cartoon to draw later instead of doing the things he thought really needed to be done.

Mom understood.

In the same way, she bought my youngest brother a guitar and encouraged him to play it. She argued with many teachers who thought my middle brother should be more like I had been in school. She kept my sister from being picked on too much by her three older brothers and their many friends.

And all of that is way more important than a Christmas tree or any presents she could have given us then. Or now.

I know Mom knows that I know this. But it was worth saying today just so everyone else will also know that I know.

Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, I’ll go back to teasing Mom. And she knows that, too. Like I said, she had a lot of practice in more than 40 years of living with Dad. And while I may be many things, at the top of the list, I will always be one of their sons — a fact of life for which I will always be grateful.

7 thoughts on “A Merry Christmas with my mom

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