My Mother’s Hands

My Mother’s Hands

Like many of you, Christmas is when I miss the people I’ve lost the most. In particular, I miss my mother, Jean.

This holiday season, I find myself inexplicably thinking about my mother’s hands. They were the hands of a devoted homemaker, unadorned and often red from the cleaning products she used to keep our house spotless. Those hands were always cold; the phrase “cold hands, warm heart” fit Jean perfectly.

She used to chase me around the house with those cold hands, putting them under my shirt when she caught me and pressing them against the warm skin of my back. Mom would sigh with happiness as her cold hands were warmed by my skin, and I would squirm and scream in protest at how freezing her fingers felt on my back.

Those were my mom’s hands.

I look back now and am amazed at how those hands toiled for years on my behalf—hanging my clothes out on the clothesline so they dried in the sun and smelled so clean and fresh, preparing a home-cooked meal every night, washing dishes, chauffeuring me from one lesson to another, and tirelessly taking care of me when I was sick.

Those were my mom’s hands.

My mother’s hands were always busy, every day, working to take care of her home and her family. And during the holidays, those hands worked overtime.

Jean loved Christmas, and it showed in the way she decorated the house for the holidays. The inside of our home was transformed into a Christmas wonderland, with every surface occupied by a whimsical holiday decoration. My favorites were the oversized Frosty the Snowman and Santa Clause candles; these candles, which we never lit, were shiny, brightly colored, slick to the touch, and smelled strongly of wax. How I looked forward to seeing them every year! They felt like old friends.

As was my mom’s way, she’d bring all of the holiday decorations down from the attic while I was at school. It was part of the joy of the season for my mother to see my reaction, the surprise on my face, when I arrived home to find all the holiday regalia strewn out in the living room.  Christmastime was finally here!

My mom’s hands shopped for all of our Christmas presents when we were little, hiding them around the house until it was time for her to wrap them. My mom’s hands did all the holiday grocery shopping, and then prepared all our favorite holiday fare. Those hands peeled potatoes for mashing and apples for homemade pie, and they tore hundreds of little pieces of bread to make homemade stuffing. Those hands made pie crust, their thumbs creating a familiar pattern on the edge of every pie.

Those were my mom’s hands.

My mother had arthritis in her hands, and I realize now that she must have been in so much pain during the holidays, with all the wrapping, chopping, and peeling. Yet she never complained.  My mom was dedicated to taking care of her family and she always put our needs and happiness ahead of her own.

Before my mom became a wife and a mother, her hands were the hands of a registered emergency room nurse. She gave up her career to make a home for her husband and children. That was her choice.

I wonder now if my mom ever regretted staying home to take care of the house, the husband, and the children. Being a stay-at-home mom is often a thankless job, with horrible hours, no vacation time, no sick leave, and no pay.

Now that she’s gone, I wish I could go back in time and thank my mom for all the years of her life she sacrificed to give me a childhood to remember. I wish I could go back in time and give her one last chance to warm her cold, aching hands on my back. I always miss her so much at Christmastime; this year, I find myself dearly missing my mother’s hands.

By

Joanna Sims is proud to pen contemporary romance for Harlequin Special Edition. Joanna's series, The Brands of Montana, feature hard-working characters with hometown values. You are cordially invited to join The Brands of Montana as they wrangle their own happily-ever-afters!

Joanna's contemporary romance novels captivate readers with their gripping plots, vivid prose, and devotion to love, realism, relatable characters, and detailed depictions of all the ups and downs that lead to a happily-ever-after.

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