This pic is one that I took of an original score of Handel's Messiah - he has messy penmanship. It's the end of the Hallelujah Chorus.
After the sing-a-long a friend came up to me and said that it doesn't feel like Christmas to him until he's sung the Messiah. I nodded politely but I was aware that I don't feel that way. I have sung the Messiah at other times of the year so it doesn't have that connection for me.
So I tried to think about what does make it feel like Christmas.
The following morning when I stepped outside my apartment I knew.
I could see my breath and there was frost on the roof of the nearby buildings. Cold and frost bring Christmas closer to me, as does 'The Christmas Chainsaw Massacre'.
You see my mum had some very distinctive Christmas Cake Decorations that she would put on the fruit cake every year. One was just the head of Father Christmas and the other was the head of a snowman. Both of them had big spikes that held them in the fruit cake. She also had a miniature evergreen that she would place on the cake as well.
The problem was one of size and perspective. The heads were almost as tall as the tree, so either Santa and Frosty had enormous deformed craniums or we had a bonsai Christmas tree.
The cake looked like someone had gone on a chainsaw massacre - and I miss it. The decorations were kitsch and I miss them.
Last year I didn't think too much about Dad being dead because all my focus was on mum being just out of hospital and making sure she had a good last Christmas - even though none of us acknowledged that is what we were doing.
So this year it feels like I am grieving both parents.
That final Christmas with Mum my present from her was a sweater that she handed knitted for me. It is a copy of one she knitted for me as a child - similar color and same pattern.
I don't wear it often in Houston as a) It's a bit tight and b) It doesn't often get cold enough.
But when I do, it's like getting a hug from Mum - I may be in my 40s, but I think all of us need a hug from Mum at times.