Drive a little slower tonight and suck in the beauty that is living on lawns and awnings this time o’ year.
Suck it in deep, so deep. Like the first prickles of the winter air to pierce the young messiah’s lungs.
The World, she’s holding something peculiar to her bosom right now, like the locket of the shy girl. The one she held deep to her chest all the days of 1942.
Tis’ a sacred kind of time we have in our hands. Where the fragile instruments, the xylophones & harps & the high notes we rarely talk about that sit so pretty on the fringe of Baby Grand pianos, get unbuckled from their dusty cases to be the centerpieces of Christmas songs that sit in our throats but once a year.
It will be gone soon, so suck it in.
Suck– the way you once sucked hot chocolate from your crazy straw on the Day You Realized Life was Designed to Turn Color with Heat.
Slips from the back door, out the side window where the wind chimes hang.
Slips like the wayward wafting of aroma soaked deep with Grandma’s pies only just the year after no one could find her standing by the counter, checking the timer against the pulse of her wrist. The holiday season missed her that year. The season wept to the tune of Oh, Holy Night that year.
The World, she’s allowing this crazy, little thing to conspire where suddenly the December Air is hoisting up Certain Lines of Songs by the waist as if they were the ballerinas meant to steal the final curtain call in the Nutcracker Ballet at Lincoln Center. The Waltz of the Sugarplum Fairies. Up, up in the air they go.
“Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” “From now on your troubles will be miles away.”
Lines I never thought to believe in, with a fist to my heart, until the red cups came out and the wicker of the lawn reindeer caught frost in their limbs each morning.
It is a 31-day span of time made for Joy, made for Simplicity. For the stripping of the garland off the staircase only to find we should have been giving to one another all along. Should have been waiting under the mistletoe for you long before we tacked an advent calendar to the wall and pulled “Elf” out from hiding. Should have been holding, long before Bing Crosby bellowed over shopping mall speakers that it was, in fact, cold outside. Too bad we really cannot stay. Too bad we have to go away.
Love sits heavy on custom cards these days—the one time of year where we might still think to use a stamp, lick an envelope, and send pictures we took of our children on the beach in August sailing into hands of Postmen who dream of the paperless eCards they’ll send when they get home.
Memories remind us what it was like to believe in something Just Because.
Just Because it was some sort of thrilling to believe that 32 hooves would shuffle on our chimney tops when the Sugar Plums fairies started dub stepping in our heads.
Just Because it was more exciting than anything to don a bright red coat and a muffler between our hands, trying Sky High Kicks in Central Park before the Radio City Spectacular confirmed every ounce of our dreams to be a Rockette one day.
Just Because there was something peaceful about changing out of the holiday dress to wear a bed sheet around our torsos and sit down, Indian-style, to hear about a story of a poor boy, born in a manger to two peasants. And we whispered into the ears of one another, “Did she say Frankenstein? Who’s Myrrh?”
There lives something peaceful in the chance to put down our chocolate-covered pretzels to cup a Linus-like message in our hands. Good News. Great Joy. Cupped in our hands, wishing we could feed something as magical as this to the reindeer.
It will go quickly. Slip away so quietly.
In one month we’ll watch the trees—flopping and folded—as the doormen carry them out to stack beside the sidewalks of a New York City that loves the way people look to her for the holidays. No one hosts a Christmas party the way she can. Denver would admit it. Chicago would call it a fact. And San Diego sits, holding his breath, wondering if NYC will remember to send an invite to his door.
Perhaps it is the Christmas season, or maybe it’s all of life. Regardless, it will slip through the fingers. Unpredictable. Quick.
But beautiful if you stop to see the lights. The way they cascade the limbs of little fir trees. The way they can take a home, full of hopeless bodies that don’t know Family the way they know the first few lines of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and somehow make anyone want to come inside to see if magic hangs on the brows of the bodies within it in just the way it hangs from the beige shutters.
That’s the hope in it all. The delicacy. The possibility. The chance to believe.
That’s the season. That’s life.
It’s all just the chance to find some sort of reminder to hitch to our hearts, like the star on the tree: It sure is wonderful, all of this, and some kind of rare we should talk about more. When the white lights take you in and hold you by a hope you never knew you could hold.