The snow started to fall while I was on my way to work, no one on the streets yet and the Christmas lights of the town burning brightly. It is supposed to snow most of the day, although I don’t hold my breath; the last time it was supposed to snow, it rained hard for two days, melting all of the snow we previously had. Still, in this moment, with the snow falling softly and just beginning to cover the bare streets, it is beautiful; I will take it, this moment, and simply enjoy.
I am remarkably calm and, dare I say it, centered, with Christmas just a few days away. Due to the unexpected largess of my father (we can always tell how his stocks are doing by the amount he sends us for Christmas every year; clearly he is doing well, the NYSE news notwithstanding) and my-would it be okay to call her my mother-in-law even though Steve and I aren’t married?-we will have some presents under the tree for the kids, and that makes me very happy. Nothing extravagant, but then we are not typically extravagant people even when money isn’t an issue. The usual assortment of books (I had, actually, $45 in Barnes and Noble gift cards from various occasions to spend), and clothes (J. and her husband R. always get the kids an outfit each), and a few other things, and all will be well. I may have written this very thing before, but I came to the conclusion in an angst-filled email to April that I am never going to have enough money to get the kids what I think they deserve; they have been through so much, and have had it pretty hard at times, and yet are so full of life and love and happiness that I think they deserve the world wrapped up and tied with all manner of ribbons. So in that respect, well, it is never going to be enough, and they are always happy no matter what they get. Truly.
So easy this time of year to look around and see all that is lacking on a material level. And I will never say that it doesn’t matter; when you have kids, it matters, whether it should or not. Yet there is, at least in my life, the abiding feeling that in spite of our dearth of material gain, we are well and truly rich. Trite? Of course; I know how smarmy and sanctimonious that sounds. I just don’t know how else to describe how deeply I really do feel that. There is something sweet in knowing that each gift my children open will be loved, not because it is something they saw on TV or is something that everyone else has but because each gift was carefully chosen to reflect that which I see in them. We will go to R. and J’s house after church on Christmas Eve and be fed and embraced and welcomed, as we are over and over again, into love. How can that not be enough?
I don’t know about the whole controversy about whether or not to call it Christmas or Winter Holiday or The Holiday of Conspicuous Consumption; frankly, I think the people of various factions who pitch a bitch about what it is called have far deeper problems than what the name of the holiday should be, but whatever. We call it Christmas because that’s just what it is called. I don’t know so much about the whole baby in a manger thing so far as actual events go, but it makes a great story-as does Santa Claus and his flying reindeer. Who wouldn’t love the idea of a man who sneaks into your house in the middle of the night and leaves presents? Well, lots of people, but again, whatever. All I know is that when I am thinking clearly, which for me means not thinking at all but simply feeling, the holiday season is one of love and more love. I might wish I could prove my love to my kids and my partner and my friends by buying them their hearts’ desires, but the reality for me is that I don’t have to prove my love, and if I did? Well. It’s all about getting up and showing up every single day, being willing to walk through the really hard stuff together, and making the decision to stick it out.
I spend too much time wondering if my views and ideas are too simplistic; seeing those jewelry commercials I am baffled, because a rock, however pretty, doesn’t mean love to me. Having my grown children lavish gifts on me to somehow repay me for all the hard work I have done (yes, complete with dramatic hand to the brow) seems, well, stupid to me. Isn’t that what we as parents DO? Isn’t that by nature our job? But then I wonder if everyone else gets it but me. I don’t know. But I do know that the people who love me the most are the ones who walk along with me on this sometimes very rocky path of life; they are the ones who don’t use past help or support (financial or otherwise) as something to hang over my head or use to control my behavior. The ones who love me-my truest and most real friends-simply love me. And vice versa. We all show up together to participate in life-and when one falls, twenty hands are there to hold us up.
That is what love is to me. That is what Christmas is to me. And this morning, with the snow still falling and the ground all covered, I feel like I remembered it just in time. I don’t want to look around and see what is lacking-because all of us can do that, regardless how blessed we are. I want to look around and see the wonder that lies in front of me, want to sit back and watch the snow and remember what it all means to me. Tomorrow night, I think I will make cookies, and this time I will let the kids help, not caring what mess they might make. We will set cookies out for Santa and we will talk about Baby Jebus and of course we have to talk about how if they don’t go to sleep, Santa won’t come but Jebus is always here, and life will be sweet.
Merry Christmas to all of you who have touched my life. HAPPY HOLIDAYS ! ! ! ! to April in particular (I would have made it bigger if I could have, believe me), and I hope that every single one of you has the holiday you wish for, whatever that means. From opening presents to feeding people in a homeless shelter, from worshipping in a church to going ice skating, I wish for you everything you deserve and want.