Written by: Jeremy Baumhower
My entire life I ‘ve been blessed with amazing birthdays and Christmases– These were the two days a year when Sue Baumhower, my mom, would show her true self.
Life is not easy for a 19 year-old single mom from a proud Point Place family. My Grandparents as you would expect, were not thrilled about becoming grandparents. So my mom quit nursing school, moved out and began the journey of her and I. These type of moments tend to put a hard exterior on a person– one that’s needed to survive, protecting both your heart and pride.
I actually have no idea how hard of a struggle my mom had because she never showed it.
On the two biggest days of a child’s life, a birthday and Christmas, my mom would always go above and beyond to make sure that whatever stupid wish I had in my head, would be granted.
One year, I wanted a ventriloquist dummy, I have no idea why… I just wanted this one specific doll with a top hat and a monocle, that was in the JC Penney catalog. I wasn’t a fan of magic shows, nor puppets. It had to be the most confusing thing my mom had ever heard me ask for. After she downplayed for the entire holiday season–magically there it was wrapped under the tree.
I never understood why my mom looked like she was crying every birthday and Christmas, until I got older. These two days were the only times she would let her over-sized heart breathe and show itself– this was something it did it with tears.
I don’t think the house my mom was raised in with her four siblings, was beaming with signs of affection. My grandparents were children of the depression, my grandpa who was one of 9 kids and was drafted– I think he was a man searching to find the beauty in life, it’s hard to hug when searching.
My mom raised my sister and I the same way, where we knew my dad and her loved us, but it was never a very hug-friendly home– except these two magical days. My sister really had one because she was born on Christmas day… but this woman made it count.
Imagine for a moment being my mom; you guys by now have seen my crazy… Four kids, multiple jobs, numerous moves across the country, a divorce, a column, Facebook oversharing, magical dust for Christmas beers, a new wedding and two ducks. If you could’ve seen her face when she met Honk and Henry.
I think my grandparents were just preparing her to raise me… the shit hasn’t been easy.
My mom has never once flinched in her support of me in any way I could ever need. My birth caused one of her biggest sacrifices with her leaving school and she never once blamed me, nor used it as an excuse for what her life had become– at times it wasn’t easy.
On this day in 1956, my mom was born, November 21st is her birthday. While I’ll never be able to give her a birthday party comparable to the ones she used to give, nor the Christmases she still does– I can tell her how much I appreciate her quitting school and never once giving up on me.
My house is way different then the one I was raised in and the one my mom was raised in– we’re huggers now. My parents and grandparents houses have also changed, we hug there too.
Every Christmas morning my kids ask me if I am alright because they can see tears run down my face. I try to tell them that it’s a heart condition, that the organ pumping the blood through my body swells too big and it’s the only thing that makes me feel better. I also point out that it is a problem in our family because my grandfather, my mom and I have this allergic reaction to Christmas trees and birthday cakes.
Happy Birthday Mom.
Of all the gifts you wrapped for me, your heart has been the greatest.