I want, perhaps even need, to find some time to write about the spirit of Christmas and what it means to me. I can't do much justice to this until the presents are wrapped and the cookies are baked and the groceries are finished. Still, in between the self imposed and elective hustles and bustles, I find memories of Christmas' past all around me. The ornaments on the tree. The scent of pine needles. The multiple red candles that are lit this long only at this time of year. The Christmas coffee cake that will be shared at 8 am on Christmas morning, along with bacon and cut up fresh honeydew melon and strawberries that look as festive as our anticipation. The menu planning. The special get togethers and the impromtu fun. The cards that arrive daily from family friends who make me smile just by seeing their handwriting.
It's so easy to recall every Christmas eve with Mike and Clara and Dani--how we give eachother all these little presents and then eat jb's chili and cornbread and reiminsce about our lives and friendship. And Jessica's face as we each open the one present of our choosing at midnight on Christmas eve, and again at precisely 7:45 am when we are all up and cannot contain our impatience to get to our stockings. And the stockings themselves: filled with all these little gifts that matter in some personal way or offer us a private laugh that only our special intimacy allows.
I'm surrounded by memories at the same time I create new ones. This year: my son-in-law continues to take his place in our hearts and on our sofa, sharing gifts and traditions; a baby boy who will introduce himself within the month; a new and enduring friendship that delights me with its laughter and love; a community I am finally calling home; a career that bumps and pushes me forward, insisting write, write. I fold these into my already precious life and I am left with amazement, even as I bitch and muddle through the stressfield that is Christmas.
I think it's really all about memories. Good memories and bad memories, past and present memories that may not fit into the wrapped box of "ideal" that is so humanly easy to wish for, but memories that none-the-less find your heart and take up permanent residence. The presents and the bustle are merely undercovers.
Here's the ending paragraph of Anna Quinlan's back page article in Newsweek this week. She says it better than anyone:
"The most enduring tales about Christmas are about recapturing those small moments, Scrooge and George Bailey on a guided tour of their own wonderful lives. But you don't really need the help of ghosts or angels. The truth is that once you've watched kids on a Christmas-morning high of ripping packages open, gloating over the contents for a nanosecond, and then moving thoughtlessly on to the next thing, you know that's not what they will ever take away from the day. You understand the power of that uncommon humdrum thing that glows in memory. That's what I would tell my younger self if I could go back. Find that. Worry about that. Make sure they have that.
The spirit of Christmas is a time machine.
Everything else is just plastic"
The little things? The little moments? They aren't little.
Merry Christmas with love.