About then I looked at Mom and she was smiling with tears running down her cheeks, she said, "It's just like home, Christmas Eve in the kitchen...", we all got quiet for a minute and laughed. You see, my parents home was small but their kitchen was huge - it really dominated the house. The table was oak, sturdy and probably five feet in diameter. At the holiday's we'd cook, family would bring extra food and we'd lay it out on the cabinets, the sink, the appliances - every flat spot - for a buffet; then we squeezed around each other to fill plate and down to eat at that big table. It made no difference to us what it looked like as long as everyone got plenty to eat.
By arriving a little late Fate and that aide put us in just the right spot to make mom feel more at home than she has in 3 years. It's a simple thing, to feel "at home" but when someone is in an institution like a nursing home, it's huge. For her it felt "normal" again; she'll remember that feeling for what's left of the rest of her life. It might be enough to sustain her mood, help her feel content and loved. At this point, it's the greatest gift we can give to her.
Christmas in Idaho, Mom's last christmas.