This is Christmas: Your mother walking in the door, having just driven in from Memphis, with a sly look in her eyes and a smile on her mouth, carrying a medium-sized box. “Guesssss whhaaaatt IIIII haaaaaave,” she near-trills, and when you open the box, dusty with attic, you find your Fisher-Price Schoolhouse in there. All these emotions you never knew you had (or simply didn’t remember so much) for this toy, this one you received on a Christmas morning twenty-nine years past come welling up as you open the doors and ding the teeny bell on top and touch each one of the little peg people lovingly as the old friends they are: here is the little black boy with the shiny brown head, here is the little white boy with squiggles for hair, here is the teacher with the molded plastic ponytailed hair and thick-lashed eyes. You have a moment of sorrow as you realize the little girl with the brown pigtails is No Longer With Us, but then recall that she may have been a Goer and not a Stayer (just like your ownself) and you are at peace about it. Besides, there are the yellow plastic pegpeople desks to consider, the kelly green teacher’s desk, the chartreuse merry-go-round and swingset, the little scalloped-canopy bus with perpetual passengers and driver. You always wondered why they were glued in there while the other peg people were free to roam, but all worlds have injustice, even plastic-and-paper ones gilded with painted-on smiles. You lovingly clean the years off the schoolhouse and its furniture and people and wonder how much little magnetic letters cost nowadays, because that magnetized roof looks somehow barren without all the vowels and consonants and limited punctuation that you arranged and re-arranged painstakingly, creating wonderful multi-colored nouns and adjectives and verbs that meant a whole new world at your fingertips when you were a mere two and had things of import scrambling for purchase in your brain’s filter, waiting to escape into the airspace beyond.
This is Christmas: Amongst ribbons and bows and discarded paper you take in a roomful of warm, happy faces atop full bellies and wassail-fuzzy heads. There are teary eyes as the money-pricey gifts are nearly ignored in favor of the heart-pricey gifts; photographs of young babies (you are one of those young babies, your spouse is another) and middling children (this cousin and that cousin arm-in-arm) and relatives long gone but still felt (grandfather and all his brothers) have been enlarged and encased behind glass to be hung and placed in places of import in each home. Suspended in moments of time: Five generations on baby’s first Christmas, two knobbly girls of five in matching swimsuits, grim-suited yet kind-faced men (five of them). They are passed around, fingers grazing the glass, stories of rememberance told, laughter and bittersweet tears mingle in milliseconds. A room hugs without ever leaving their seats or making physical contact. We are rich, is the unspoken phrase that hangs on every molecule in the room, whether or not there are presents to give and groaning table to be partaken from. We are simply fortunate that this is so. We are fortunate to have one another, this family.
This is Christmas: You are on the phone, talking with an oldnew friend, trading stories of statues and trains even-handedly, making up newold inside jokes as you go along, speaking of psychic-Kerouac things as you paint things and bake things and tend to the business of busyness. Conversation turns to the ‘idea’ of Christmas and you are told that you have meaning to someone, that your Clinging To The Innate Joy that this time of year (or at the very least, trying to with all you have) should stand for, should mean, (“Don’t you remember the absolute MAGIC that Christmas was to you as a kid? I so do! I want to keep that and I want to teach my kids to keep it, too….”) helps oldnew friend swing back to center when oldnew friend is wafting along on the Christmas Cynicism that is so omnipresent nowadays, helps oldnew friend renew Christmas Spirit. How immensely flattered you feel, how astounded that such a simple (though important) and matter-of-fact thing to you takes on a meaning greater than yourself. And that’s what it’s really all about, as we –all of us– are just the vessels which the Cosmos works through to get certain (wild and varied) messages to those who need said messages at ‘x’ time in their day/year/lifetime.
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
// Luke 2:19 (NIV)
// Luke 2:19 (NIV)
Merry Christmas, you guys. And I mean that. I mean it. I wish you warm toes and full hearts and an overflowing sense of contentment. God bless you in the coming year!
Find Jett at her blog The Alphabet Junkie.
And on The Twitter @jettsuperior
She also writes at Polite Fictions
(And, I'll have you know, she happens to *also* be funny as hell. One of the overlooked gems of the blogging community, I'd say. Go find her for yourself. Merry Christmas!)
*I use the number twelve loosely.