It's Christmas Day.
The sun is out; there are no clouds in the sky, and a slight clean crispy breeze is blowing through my window. Funny thing...I've never noticed how beautiful a Christmas Day can be. I don't remember many like this. This Christmas Day is turning out to be special. Since the first of December, 25 days ago, I realized something different and exciting was happening; I realized I may be going through a conceptual transformation.
Last night -- Christmas Eve -- some friends extended an invitation for dinner with their families at their house, a sweet and kind gesture, for which I am extremely grateful. But I turned them down. I had made my own plans, and I was looking forward to seeing them through; I was planning to spend Christmas Eve with my mom.
Mom had always been there for me. There isn't a time when I can remember when she wasn't. Whatever I had asked for, she had always either given it to me or made it possible for me to have it. She had rescued me from an explosive relationship and opened her house up for me to move back in during my life-changing transition. She had helped me to get my first job after my change of residence across the state. She had attended every function I danced in, kept me company in many of my in-store food demos, went with me to many of my holiday dinner parties with friends, and sat with me through all the food concessions at the numerous dance festivals. She had made me dance costumes, folded newsletter brochures so that I could mail them out timely every quarter, helped with the packaging of food orders every week. And when I announced that I was going to open my own restaurant, she was there offering financial support. And, how she loved this restaurant, visiting it every week. Without her and her unselfishness, I might had never known how this Christmas Day would have turn out after her passing. So, I made plans to spend Christmas Eve with myself and with my mom -- just the two of us.
It is said that a mother sacrifices her desires to ensure that her child's needs are met. She spends quality time doing various activities with her child, and is willing to address and answer concerns and questions her child may have. She is self-sacrificing. A mother loves unconditionally and hugs warmly with forgiveness when her child does wrong. And she helps her child build good character and sound moral compass, and helps her child avoid the troubles leading to maturity of life. This was my mother when she was alive.
Last night, inside my little restaurant, I stood in the dimly lit center of it and looked around. I saw keenly how special and beautiful it really is, and I was suddenly overcome with as sense of longing for times past; to look into my mother's face and crack a joke or share a story. She had been so much a deep part of my life. While sensing this emotional longing, I noticed how wonderfully perfect the place in which I was standing was, even in its struggle for survival through the past years. I breathed in its unique faint aromas of yesterday's dinners, and exhaled the memories of its growth and the many moments spent with my mother within its walls. This little abode, located in the deep recesses of San Francisco's 49 square miles, had grown into something more than just a restaurant. As I closed my eyes and drew in my breath, I reflected that in the past decade, it had helped me learn about survival, taught me about nurturing relationships, and opened a pathway to building character. I let out a deep sigh. I was somewhat strangely comforted by this in a familiar sort of way.
So, last night, I spent my Christmas Eve for the first time in a long time inside the familiarity of my restaurant with my mother. However, I wasn't with my mother only in spirit. Inside the restaurant, I was, in my mind, with my mother physically -- in her company, cradled in the safety of her four walls, for it was my mother who had made it possible for me to have and own this little restaurant, and it is this restaurant who continues to support, cradle, comfort, and hold my hand just as my mother used to do.
This restaurant, and all of its future and potential offerings, as well as its past occurrences, is my safety net. I didn't realize this until this year, last night, Christmas Eve. So, last night, Christmas Eve, I spent the evening with my mother. I closed my eyes, and we embraced. We shared. We sat silently and listened to each other. I ate a pint of ice-cream -- her favorite food, and cracked a bottle of champagne in her honor. It was because of her that my dream came true.
This restaurant is a mother; it is the memory of my mother; it is my mother.
Today is Christmas Day. And mom is here with me, just as I now know she has always been, holding my hand and telling me that the future will bring great things.