It Begins

It’s the real eve Christmas Eve now. It’s time to light the candles.

People were nice today out in the world, even with the traffic such a snarl. The man that cut my swordfish steaks, the one that handed me that pork roasts: both nice. (I sometimes think I foodshop every day just for the human contact. For that and for the way a crisp fresh pear talks back to you when you first bite into it.)

David in his Wellesley College sweatshirt is changing a light bulb just now. Down in the kitchen, Dodson is feeding the baby while Veronica is out buying just a little more gift-wrap. Gary, safely back with us from the Delta, just blew in with the glad announcement that he has finished his shopping. Our son Michael, also here for just this week from his own job in Arkansas, is still out. I hear he took the train into Boston while I was out and if my memory of the timetable serves, he too will be walking in any minute. 

I have to dress up to go to Annie and John’s house – they’re feeding us tonight – but before I do that I need to make a dish for tomorrow, and also water the Christmas tree, which has a kind of dry discouraged look today. It knows better than we do that really it died weeks ago and this whole display is just an extended wake.

Ah but it’s a beautiful wake! Remember the days when trees weren’t perfectly shaped and had that wild and piney secant? Remember the years when we all hung plastic icicles on our trees and strings of colored bulbs as big as your nose? Remember the years before those even, when we hung a kind of tinsel that was metallic and crinkly and made your teeth hurt if you ever got it in your mouth?

In my mind I see my single mother on Christmas Eve, reading us the old story at bedtime and then rushing downstairs, once we drifted off, to bring forth the whole Christmas miracle including even the tree itself, with only her aged dad and her ancient spinster aunties to help if our pretty Aunt Grace didn’t drive over to lend a hand. We lived together, all of us. It was a very happy home.

May your home be happy too, both for the remains of this glowing day and in the days to come as well. Feliz Navidad!

xmas of '78