December 24, 2011
So this is Christmas—just cold enough to justify a fire, the apple tart & pecan pie both done, Jill in the kitchen working on her deviled eggs, apple cider to be warmed soon on the stove. Presents under the tree, my father-in-law smelling like his good cologne. Peace on Earth, good will to men.
One of my friends will spend tonight in a room in the ICU of a pediatric hospital, she and her husband’s first Christmas with their baby girl. Another friend sits with her mother as she recovers from emergency cardiac surgery. Someone newly divorced, someone newly widowed. Many friends for whom this Christmas is their first as a married couple; others look ahead to next year being baby’s first Christmas.
There’s no such thing as a perfect Christmas—it is, as the universe turns, simply another day, during which both wonderful and crappy things happen. Whether the meets our expectations or it doesn’t, whether it’s what we would choose if we had our own way or not, there is simply this Christmas, exactly as it is and as it’s not.
I want to be here, now—to watch Jill interact with her father, who will be ninety next year, and her mother, whose short-term memory is practically nonexistent these days. To remember the way we laughed so hard at dinner last night, when Jill’s mother delivered a dead-pan line for the ages; to record the stories that Jill’s daddy tells, like no one can tell a story, from his long career in law enforcement or his young adulthood during the Great Depression.
Every time something threatens to drive me or Jill crazy—because, let’s admit, the family we love drives us crazy—I tell myself “We are going to miss this. Someday, we will miss exactly this.”
I’m going to go be in my Christmas now. To all of you, no matter what this day does or doesn’t mean to you, and how close it does or doesn’t look to what you had hoped, I wish you tidings of comfort and joy, gratitude and peace.