It’s a beautiful December day in Podunk. The wind and rain earlier this week have cleared the air. The sky is a glorious blue with not a cloud to be seen. To the east, the Sierra Nevada Mountains are capped with snow.
It’s a match made in heaven: snow on the mountains and snowshoes in the back of our car. Soon. Very soon, we will go for a winter hike in the Sequoia Nat’l. Park. Or Kings Canyon Nat’l Park. They’re both less than an hour away…
For now, I’m baking. I have to do it by myself this Christmas because my granddaughter is still in school and won’t be joining us until the night before Christmas Eve. She will, however, be here soon enough to help with the clam chowder and carrot cake for Christmas Eve supper, and the egg casserole for Christmas morning brunch.
As I make cookies, I am listening to Christmas music. The old-fashioned, politically incorrect religious kind of music. The music that I associate with Christmases past and present. At my age, there are a LOT of memories of Christmas.
And I am awash in those memories right now. Missing those people who were such a huge part of my life so long ago… My parents and grandparents, of course, but mostly those bright, shiny little faces that belonged to my little children. Their freshness and innocence, their delight with all things Christmas, their joy as they saw what Santa brought them. Their beautiful faces as they solemnly participated in the Christmas Pageant at church…
I realize that it was inevitable that they would grow up and move out on their own, but that doesn’t assuage the nostalgia of the moment. It does help that they are all healthy and happy and have families of their own. And they DO come to visit when they can…
I don’t need the Ghost of Christmas Past to remind me of things I have done, or the Ghost of Christmas Present to show me how fortunate I am to have love and joy in my life. I already know all that. I am thankful for all the good in my life right now. Very thankful.
But I also wonder: “why me?” When others are fighting so desperately to stay alive and find shelter, why do I have so much? As other people my age search longingly for someone to love, I have someone to love. Someone who came to me late in life, and reminds me every day how lucky we are to have each other.
So what, if anything, am I trying to say? I think it’s this: Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or Santa) lives in our hearts. It isn’t about presents, or being surrounded by every person I have ever loved, or having the biggest and best decorations ever. No. It’s about the feelings I’m having right now, the memories that have descended on me this morning, and the flour on my hands, clothes, and kitchen floor.
Joy is in our hearts. Love, peace, serenity, tranquility, whatever….it all lives inside of us. Those memories are brought forward to remind us of the journey that we have taken, the places we have been, and the suffering that we have survived.
It’s an annual renewal of those things that we hold dear to us. It embodies all that the human spirit holds dear, and it allows us to indulge our memories of Christmases past and our hopes for Christmas in the future. (Of course, tomorrow IS 12-21-2012….)
And so, I will go back to the kitchen, the flour on the floor, and the cookies waiting to be baked. I will keep listening to the Christmas music, thinking about my loved ones, and being thankful for all that has been given to me.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!