There are a million ways to get lucky, and some of them are better than others, that’s just the way it is. I hear the screech of hot tires in the cold December night, no rain. I sigh. And blink. And scratch my face. The dog circles around herself a few times before settling in- some instinctual tampering down of long grasses, acted out, involuntarily almost, upon the thin brown carpet on the kitchen floor.

The sun came up clean and bright over the west hills casting lanky shadows of leafless trees all over the sidewalk and on the sides of buildings. Some of us are still waking up. I’m itchy all over and the bath will only make it more urgent and I will scrub and scrub and I’ll forget not to moan. Home sweet home, I hear the air being pushed up from the basement and I take my hat off.

Oh Holy Night, and still comes the itch, menacing and ignorant. Wads of crinkled wrapping paper abandoned on the floor. Ribbons with knots and tissue with tears and then phone calls with tears. Hang on. Hang on. It is not all gone, just frozen and delicate, waiting for cake. Lonely friends line the sofa weeping sweetly over recollections and change. While I’m scrubbing, rubbing anxious red skin I’m thinking about hope and hoping for it. A glimpse of better times ahead, a battle fought and won and dangling harmlessly somewhere in the back of the mind in a distant time a pleasant memory for what is dead now …. swollen belly, jagged rash, blurry vision, hair falling out, bloated face, a wicked fatigue, a restless appetite. Uncertainty clings to the December air like a sour, stained hand-me-down coat. We are helplessly hopeful and keenly aware that we cannot know tomorrow.

Ding dong ding dong, Christmas bells are ringing. Actually, the fact of the matter is that I have never heard a Christmas bell nor would I know what differentiates a Christmas bell from any other. Still, it was Christmas today and like the whose in who-ville, the family made a big circle, hand in hand and sang the table prayer because tradition calls for it and because it is beautiful. Our family Christmas happens in the commissary of Peace Lutheran Church, a place at the height of its life during the 1950’s. Vaulted ceilings and a balcony for the organ, an intimate chapel room just off the right of the large entry, the basement full of Sunday school rooms and a fireside room with its own kitchen…it used to be filled with children learning the words to “Jesus loves me, this I know for the bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong they are weak but he is strong.” Aunt Becky is the church secretary so it doesn’t take much to be given permission to conduct our family gatherings there once a year. This year Julie Smith, Dell, Mom and Grandma and Grandpa spent Christmas eve decorating long tables with red table clothes, springs of bright red and green holly curled around candles stretched out every few feet. When the immediate family, the sons and daughters of Harland and Kay and their offspring get together and everyone is there we number about 50 and there are many tribes within the tribe, bursts of laughter thunder through the air- amplified by the soaring ceilings and the shiny vinyl floors. The buffet is lined with the usual suspects, ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, butter, salad, that vegetable casserole that has all the canned fried onions on top and piles of dessert at the end. We sit, we laugh, we eat. Grandpa followed in the footsteps of his mom and read the Christmas story of Jesus in the manger to a floor full of surprisingly attentive children. He is old and he is happy and he is very handsome- even more than when he was young. It is impossible not to love him.
xmas sasha & luna

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.