Thoughts that Linger
January 2, 2011
Today I will take down Christmas and pack it away for another year. At least most of it. Reluctantly.
I’m one of those that starts listening to Christmas tunes around Thanksgiving and counts the days until it is socially acceptable to deck the halls. I love opening the big green tubs filled with memories of Christmas past, and finding a place in my home for them to reside for a few short weeks. And I love the warm glow of the lights. Everywhere.
I don’t even mind shopping during the holidays, contrary to most other times of the year. Not even for groceries. It’s likely I will see people I don’t see very often when the stores are crowded. I am delighted to exchange good cheer with a stranger, when their day is full and their job is hard, and it would be easier for both of us to do otherwise.
I will probably leave the mantle of lights and snowmen over the kitchen sink. One last vestige which I will enjoy, and my family will tolerate, until all hope for snow is lost. And when the last of this holiday season is retired, it will be the thoughts that linger on.
Like the squeal of my grandson, when he walked into the house and saw the “Lights!” for the first time, and the second, and the third. Or the way he danced with glee when the otherwise rambunctious dog snuffled him on Christmas Eve. Although this was his third Christmas, it was the first for him to unwrap a gift with understanding, intent, and enjoyment. There is a quiet beauty in the eyes of a child as they experience something for the first time, without fear or expectation.
My granddaughter lay on the comforter underneath the tree, in the house that her great-grandmother and grandfather built. This I will think of when I close my eyes to sleep at the end of a long day. Time goes by so quickly.
I will remember something as simple as my daughter turning off the television on Christmas Eve. Surely not a big thing and not that anyone was watching, but it was a sign that we should not be distracted from the more important things at hand, like each other. Things that were important to her as well.
Miles separated my son and I, but the comfort of his voice was as close as the phone on a blue Christmas night. I am reminded how important it is for me to have time apart to appreciate the time together.
This will be the Christmas when I remembered how much enjoyment there is in gifting something made with my hands, and hoping it will last for lifetimes.
I will remember John’s children, now young adults, gathered on Christmas day in the kitchen with their faces as close to the windows as humanly possible, counting the numbers and kinds of critters that had come to the feeders that John filled the day before.
And John, sitting on the periphery of kids and electronic media, strumming a green ukelele with a smile on his face, from deep in a soul where youth springs eternal.
It’s not the things I hold in my hand, but the ones that are in my heart.