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At Christmas, Jinni Created the Magic We Will Never Forget

My mother Jinni, who raised us after my father’s sudden heart attack and death, revealed through her example the rewards of a tireless love, one that often included sacrifice. So when raising my three children, I had to ask: how did my mother do it? How did she find the time at Christmas?

Jinni supported us by typing insurance policies in our dining room. But that didn’t prevent her from finding the time to actually sew a bra for the anatomically correct doll I had asked for. The doll arrived with boobs, but no proper foundations! And there were other Jinni chores: assembling a toy airplane and a pup tent—because there was no one else to make sure things were Santa-ready.

Of course we always had a real Christmas tree, Jinni driving us to Van Leighton’s, the fresh produce store whose parking lot at Christmas became a forest of freshly cut trees. And somehow we got our choice home—my older brother struggling to get the tree into the car’s trunk, then tying it down. But if things weren’t done perfectly, we were in luck; our drive was short, the tree far from humongous, Jinni’s budget tight.

And we were never disappointed during that economically challenging time of year. Jinni worked her magic, made it all happen, the excitement, the brightness of toys, books and records under the tree…Christmases for which we were always grateful. 

But there were years when she developed a holiday cold—probably from exhaustion—but regardless, she hurried out into the cold to sing Midnight Mass at our church, somehow getting her beautiful high soprano voice to function: another Christmas miracle.


My mother taught us to accept gifts graciously and to always give back.

Through her openness and warmth she showed me and my brothers that acceptance can lead to happiness. There might have been times in her life when she felt anger or disbelief that she’d been left with three small children after my father’s death. But there’s that old line about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off. Metaphorically, Jinni did that, and never looked back. She made her life about us, about always helping anyone who was experiencing sorrow of some kind. Jinni replaced sorrow with gratitude.

The doorbell would ring and there was Gen and her daughter Mary Jane with a box of hand-me-down clothing for me. Hey! It was great. The clothes were lovely, Mary Jane growing faster than I did. There was also Jinni’s friend who had connections to a toy store. Once a year, he’d arrive with three very expensive toys—one for each of us.

When you accept the generosity of others, the upside of that action is giving back. At Christmas, my mother Jinni always had an envelope with some extra dollars for people who cleaned or did some outside work for us. Thank you was always heard in our home. Because of our mother, we learned to take words of thanksgiving with us, bestowing them on others, making gratitude part of our lives. So whatever faith you might celebrate this season, I wish you happiness and the giving love of those close to you.  

One Response

  1. Jinni was a wonderful woman. Now knowing more about her, my convictions are stronger.
    Merry Christmas to you as you carry on her spirit.

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