Sunday, December 21, 2014

wander as you wonder: in 3/4 time

One day I asked my mother what she wanted for Christmas.

“Peace and quiet,” she said.

One year she got a bike for Christmas.

Another day I mentioned that Christmas was right around the corner.

“Oh, I don’t think that will affect me much,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll do much.” She smiled, just a little. “I’ll coast on my memories.”

“What are your memories?” I asked.

She paused. “Oh, I suppose we believed in Santa Claus. I suppose you kids got excited.”

I’ll Be Home For Christmas played softly in the background. Diana Krall sounded all wistful and jazzy.

My sister, or maybe it was her husband, found a box of old Christmas stuff in their shed. Oddball items such as a red and gold skirt for a tree and a couple of black steel candleholders, one like a lantern and one in a spiral, resembling a tree, both adorned with plastic greenery and little red and gold balls and such. There is a group of small, wooden, Disney-like creatures made in Japan with wire springs for necks so their heads bounce and jive. Some hold an instrument and their paint is peeling. One—it looks like Goofy or maybe Pluto—is missing an ear and yes, I do believe a dog ate that. Some waxy red candles are slightly bent and misshapen, and there’s a plastic Santa in a sleigh pulled by six plastic reindeer. Remnants of Christmas past, the Christmas we grew up with, now jumbled and stored in odd and various plastic bags in an old cardboard box in this shed in California. Except for having lost their tattered tissue paper wrappings, these ornaments, these trinkets, and this floppy cardboard box—well, not so very different from last century.

In 1978, we shoveled snow for Christmas.

This is, of course, a season and a holiday when too much is made of so much of everything. Too much is made of family and harmony and togetherness and peace and snow and a warm hearth; popcorn, snowmen, gifts, gifts, gifts and giving and good will and feasts and chocolate and cookies and lights and parties and parties and good friends; good cheer, fake snow, snow, puppies in Santa hats. Merry merry and joyous and happy, and happy, and happy. Unless you are unhappy. Where’s the mistletoe? And sweet black licorice? Where’s the sweet black licorice? Have some! It can feel, all at once, like a sham and a burden and it can feel, all at once, like a truth and a blessing.

Who needs eight reindeer when six will do?

Open your heart, loosen your reins, sing a song, consider the glory. Bells are ringing. Throw in a manger, a wise man, a dreidel, a menorah, a “Silent Night” and give a nod to Kwanzaa. Behold the winter solstice. (Hallelujah.) Here comes Santa, and here comes baby Jesus. Travel, stay home, drink too much or drink too little. Follow a star. Watch movies, sleep late, get up early. Listen to music, go to church, dance, crack nuts. Ponder. What it means. Stop and ponder what it means.

Rock on, Goofy.

Josie and I went to the beach. We delivered packages to the post office then stopped at a beach we stop at just once in a while, but someday I will write about this beach because there is a beautiful mosaic as you enter the parking lot and later as you walk you encounter an interesting statue of a mermaid. The beach is a cove protected by various breakwaters and at first you walk along heading south and then curve and head west. The beach is clean—less flotsam and jetsam rolling in perhaps because of the breakwaters. The waves roll gentle and long and curving and a few people walk along, and dogs, and birds. This is a cool day in the low 60s with broad stretches of clouds and a gentle breeze.

After our walk we head back to the van passing a plank bridge that leads to a plank walk that is a pier. Josie runs down it, turns left, turns right, no one is on the pier, he investigates, a fish jumps. A gull stands guard atop a pylon keeping a close eye. I think of the men I have loved and realize I still love them, each and every one. They are not many, mind you, hardly a handful, but why think of it? I wonder. Maybe it’s like when a new version of an old song gets stuck in your head.



I call Josie. He runs over, hops in the van, we head home.


With love from Josie, Elliott, and me.