|Our Rover at Darlington, decorated for Christmas|
It was a pleasant ritual each Christmas for the young Reggie to accompany MD to the garden center near our house to choose the perfect, diminutive wreath for the front of her car. MD, who was ordinarily a no-nonsense, down-to-business gal, would get surprisingly girly with the guys who worked at the garden center, who were charmed—and sometimes exasperated—by her insistence on choosing the perfect wreath for the front of her car. It had to be just so.
MD took Christmas very seriously. It was the only holiday when she truly rallied and followed through on the rituals of her Episcopalian tribe. She could have cared less about the other holidays of the year, such as Easter, when she was far more likely to toss out a disparaging wisecrack than toe the line of expected behavior. But Christmas was another matter. And I'm grateful that she took it seriously (unlike a lot of other things), since she imbued in me and my siblings a reverence for the rituals of Christmas that pleasantly stay with me still, to this day.
Ever since I have had my own cars, I have bought wreaths to decorate their grilles during the Christmas season—at least the grilles of the cars that I drive that can carry off sporting a wreath without looking completely ridiculous. Not only do I like the way they look, but it is a sentimental connection that I have with MD, long after she is dead, at the time of year that she loved the most.
Here's to you, MD.