Snippets of time, little blessings, fond memories, heartaches… All things experienced at new or different levels this holiday season. I feel hyper-alert, jumpy, and oddly enough, grateful. Trying to balance the joy of Christmas with my family (after two decades in another state) with the gaping hole right in front of us all. Christmas this year feels like an exercise in sanity and a process. more than a holiday.

This, as I pull my husband from all that is familiar to him, our tradition of Christmas hosting his family, whom I love very much. Our Christmases have been good; brightly decorated, lots of food, drink, silliness, and warmth. Our new Christmases will be, too, eventually. New traditions…

Friday night was fun. Our new town, Weaverville, had a holiday candlelight stroll, all the little galleries and businesses on Main Street stayed open late. Luminaries (candles in white paper bags, not celebrities) lined the curbs, frost chilled the air, local students sang carols up and down the street. Picture Mayberry with art galleries and beer. Jack of Hearts, the pub where I work, was packed; warm and cheerful. It was a wildly busy night, really fun. In the words of Rob Mangum, “It was festive as shit in there.”

Saturday night, I left work for a bit to go to my sister Dana’s house. She and Paul were decorating their Christmas tree, with my Mom and Dad. I got there late and didn’t much feel like decorating, but I was really glad to be there at all. I read David Sedaris’ holiday tale, “Six to Eight Black Men” aloud as my contribution. Cecci, the kitty, entertained us by climbing the ladder and inspecting Dana and Mom’s work.

Today, I spent a couple of hours walking my cats around their new world, enjoying the sunshine, drinking coffee and waking slowly. My new boss Joe hosted a nice brunch for a small group. After that, my sister-in-law Cindy and I did a bit of Christmas shopping in Asheville. Can I just say how much I LOVE the unique, non-chain shops in this town?

This evening, Cindy and I went to a Christmas party. It was cheerful and bright and warm. The hosts were charming, the food and drink good, the decorations pretty. Only thrice did I tear up when folks talked about John. I confess to a good cry when I got home, but hey… ‘Tis the season.

Anyway, life here is settling down in a nice way. It is good to be with people who knew my brother, to hear their stories. It is good to see Cindy and Kady and Samantha every week. And it will be good to be here with my family, to hold each other up this Christmas. Tuesday, Mom and Dad are coming over for lunch. Sweet.


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2 Comments on “Gifts”

  1. Mary Kilburn Says:

    Thank you Mary Ellen. Your “stuff” is almost as good as a visit.



  2. Izabella Says:

    Hi Mery,

    I read your you blog everytime , i love it just don’t reply we both know i suck in English. Well it Christmas so i just want to say i miss the days when you was late to work, the house is geting empty ….i will miss you and John and the scary cats ahaha but i do wish you the very best in your new place .Thank You so much for all this years working for you , i know i’m not done yet but i just want you to know it was my plesure to work for you THANK YOU !! AND



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