When I was growing up in Louisiana, my two best friends were Donny and Chris. Both were blessed with what I call, "Cool Moms." Chris' Mom, Robin, was possibly the coolest Mom in the world in that she did absolutely nothing Mom-like with us. Instead, she drank and played poker with her sons and their friends, laughed a lot and told me to "kiss her ass" on more than one occasion. (She continues to treat me that way to this day. My Mom, on the other hand, would never tell one of my friends to "kiss her ass," even if said friend had convinced her son that he could use her vacuum cleaner to suck the water out of his flooded car, burning up the vacuum cleaner in the process.) Donny's Mom, Sandy, was a little more traditional but still, she was cooler than most. When she talked to you, she genuinely seemed excited to hear what you had to say. If you were fighting with your girlfriend, Sandy (Mrs. Magee back then) wanted to hear all about it. She laughed a lot, too, and always treated us like we were people and not just "kids." She was one of those Mom's who embarrasses their kids because they want to be involved, but she was so likeable that it made us feel special that she wanted to talk to us.
This Christmas Eve, while my father-in-law was playing Santa in the living room, I sat on my back-porch talking to my oldest friend Don about his mother, who died the day before.
Whenever I think about Mrs. Magee, I always think about Christmas. Back in 1984, Donny was in the army and I was working at a radio station and going to college. I would stop by and talk to Mrs. Magee sometimes to see if she had heard from Don. I was 20 years old.
That Christmas was strange for me because I had to work Christmas Eve. I think that we all have that Christmas when we have to admit that we've made the transition to adulthood.... that Christmas will never again feel the same as it did when we were kids. I was working until midnight and my parents would be in bed when I got home (my sister had married a few years earlier and had a family of her own). For the first time in my life I would not have a traditional Christmas Eve with my family. I must have mentioned it to Mrs. Magee because she invited me to her house when I got off. They were having a party, and she asked me to stop by after work and have a drink.
I've often thought about that night over the years. I don't think there is any way that Mrs. Magee could have known that it would stay with me, but it did. That night, as I finally came to terms with the reality that I was an adult and couldn't get all worked up over Christmas anymore, Mrs. Magee saved me from being stuck in transition limbo. She immediately treated me like an adult, inviting me to her private party like I was an old friend of the family and not just an old friend of her son.
I did stop by but I didn't stay long. Still, the fact that I had gone to my first Christmas Eve party, with real grown-ups and stuff, took the edge off the childhood I was leaving behind.
Whenever I think about Mrs. Magee, I always think about Christmas....... and I suppose I always will.