Snow birds and autumn yule

My mother is a snow bird. They’re a common breed here in the Midwest where bitter cold winters last through April and icy roads make travel nearly impossible. And, within that hearty breed, my mother is a queen.
She flees south before the first snowflake, makes a celebrated but brief reappearance during the holiday season, and then whisks herself away again, returning with the lilac blooms and only after the last tiny patch of ice, which is usually located directly in front of our house, has melted.
This enviable lifestyle requires preparation, though, and annually several phone calls to our house.
”I’m having a Halloween party,” she announced last weekend. Lured by her promise of Sloppy Joes and Door County Cherry Pie, we all trooped over.
Her place was an autumnal wonderland, with pumpkins and scarecrows and Dove chocolate peanut butter candy. We ate ourselves into a happy, sugary, vulnerable state. We’ll never learn.
“The Christmas tree is in the basement,” she said cheerfully.
“The Christmas tree?” I asked.
“Well, of course,” she said. “I’m leaving for Florida on Thursday.”
“Is it assembled?”
“Of course it is,” she said.
It wasn’t. I don’t even know why I asked. The tree is never assembled.
We all knew our roles and we went right to work. Vince and I fought with the various parts of the tree. I am, on principle, opposed to fake trees. But, when your decorations have to last two whole months before the big day, there really is no choice.
Molly began to assemble the Christmas train and Vinnie battled the lights.
The whole scene seemed incongruous with the bright sun reflecting off the blooming roses outside.
My mom and her kind husband John directed things from a couch across the room. I stood on the piano bench and bent the top branch back and forth until the star placement satisfied both of them.
It really is nice to know a twinkling Christmas tree will greet them when they return for Christmas in December.
And then we’ll get the call.
“I’m having a Boxing Day party,” my mom will say and we’ll all troop over to take everything back down.

A flattering view of Vinnie at work on the lights.
Molly sets up the Christmas train.
Two turtle doves snow birds.
Oh Tannenbaum (note the blooming rose bush outside).

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