pull up a chair

where wisdom gathers, poetry unfolds and divine light is sparked…

Tag: traditions

making my list and checking it twice

i know how the fellow feels. being something of a list-maker and checker myself.

poor chubby ol’ elf. all those roofs on which to glide to a stop. all those sooty old chutes to get stuck in, what with a whatchamahoojie poking out from the pack.

after all these many, many christmases here, the jolly one is still making appearance. the little one teeters in that netherworld of probably not believing when he’s out on the school yard, but here, where it’s safe, where it’s home, where there’s no harm in extending the tease, he plays like he’s a believer.

uncanny, i know.

but sweet.

and so, as in so many uber-sized catholic families, as in the town where i grew up, when the gap between the top of the dozen and the wee one at the bottom was maybe 18 years, or 15, or for the gestational superstars, perhaps only 12, we are sending one off to college with drop-down from santa.

it’s the morning of christmas that has long been my favorite, those wee early hours stitched with suspense, with waiting, with listening for footsteps from the rooms up above.

i will be the earliest riser, if my christmas wish comes true. i’ll be alone in this old house where the whole of the morning wraps me in comfort and tidings of joy.

i’ll tiptoe down in the near-dark of dawn, plug in the lights on the tree. turn up the flame under the banged-up pot on the stove, the one that holds “smell,” my now legendary mix of orange peels and cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cloves, all simmering in a murky pot of boiled-down clove water.

i’ll kerplunk into boots and trudge out in the snow. the birds, top on my list, as i call out, “merry christmas, babies, here’s breakfast.” i think for the holiday i’ll dump cranberries in with their suet bits and sunflower seed.

back in the house, now that the chimney will have been cleared, i’ll lay down the logs and kindle the flames. no fires allowed till the wide elf makes his delivery, but i’ll be the first to see that, by then, he’s sprinkled sweet somethings all about the room, one pile per each boy.

i’ll check the cookies and milk, left out the night before. and sure enough, there will be nibbles, and a ring in the glass. that ol’ elf never fails to leave crumbs and a dirty glass, besides.

but it’s all right, we understand. he’s places to go, and chimneys to climb.

won’t be long till i hear the percussive thud of the boy in the bed leaping awake (the one rare morn when getting him up does not involve trumpets and icy buckets of water). next up on the sound panel will be the little one begging the big one to please please get up. and the big one, inherently sweet, will oblige, will slide in his slippers, will wipe the sleep from his eyes, and together they’ll tromp down the steps, round the bend.

and i, in classic santa mode, will stand back and beam, watching the boys who i love with all of my heart take in the wonder and loot that fell from the sack.

and for the 18th christmas that i’ve been so blessed, i’ll feel my ol’ thumper fill up and spill–the magic of santa, indeed and indeed, is that every once in a very rare while we get to step into magic and let it play out.

same props. same story. year after year after year.

and may we all live happily ever after.

merry blessed christmas to you and to yours. to the little wee ones who fought to get here. to the big kids who climbed their own mountains this year. whatever are the stories that brought you to this holy winter’s morn, hallelujah and joy everlasting. may you find your bliss this christmas.

ho-ho-holiday nods

most every friday, i carve out an hour. or maybe more than one.

it’s the hour when i pull up a chair, and sit for a moment. wait for the bubbling up to begin. it’s when i sift through the landscape of the week, see where my heart trips up. where it wants to play a frame over and over again. it’s the hour when i capture some scene of my children’s lives, as that life rolls on. it’s where i stop and pause and stare at some God-given miracle, the flight of a bird, the droop of a bloom. it’s where i wonder out loud.

and so it comes today. at the far side of the day, instead of the start. a field trip pulled me away. and the bus broke down on the long ride home. but, on fridays, i never feel settled till i’ve pulled up a chair.

so here i am, just me and my words and my bubbling-up heart.

it’s quiet here, the way i like it best of all, the way that lets me breathe. deep in, and deep out.

the clock ticks. the tea kettle is almost to whistling. the back yard, where all my flocks come, where they chitter and squawk, it’s silver-blue light out there. the sun has slipped from the afternoon sky. there’s barely the barest tinge of pink-fingered sky off to the west.

oh, there’s the kettle.

and there goes the last of the light. all i see now is black against gray. the limbs of the trees stretched like veins against sky.

my night’s work will be filled with elf sorts of tasks. i’ve holiday bread, 10 loaves, to deliver. each one tied with a cord, pulled on a sled perhaps. depends when the snow comes.

i’ve decided this year that i am making all of december a month for quietly giving. none of this mad-dash rush at the end. i’ve made the stretch from the first through till christmas a time to turn to those who’ve made a difference, to say, with a loaf, or a word, thank you for all you bring to me on the unlikeliest of days.

thank you to the neighbor who left a basket of tomatoes at my back stoop.

thank you to the one who lets my boy play in her basement for hours on end.

thank you mister bus driver, for marking each ride with a wave and a smile. for giving me reason, each blessed morning we manage to get there, for walking home with my own smile inside.

thank you to the soulful women who type beside me, tuesday through thursday. thank you for giving me reason to want to come to work.

thank you to the principal who made sure my little one was safe at heart during his days in the woods (and typed out a furtive email to let me know that he was).

thank you, deeply and truly, to each of you who come here during the days of the year when, somehow, you carve out the minutes it takes to come and see what’s out on the table. maybe you nibble, maybe you pass. but back and again, you come and you come.

nearly four years it’s been (12.12.06, the very first entry). and here we are on the brink of that marker, and too, the brink of the eve when a boy who’s grown up here will find out the news about college.

it’s a big december, as always.

bigger than most because of the latter.

how did we get here, so many are asking? how did we get to this place where our just-born children were finding out about college–where they would go, where they would dream, where they’d spread wings and fly from our nest?

it’s a good time for quiet, this brink of so much. so quiet i’ve stitched. in a card typed and cut and pasted and stamped. in bread studded with almond paste and golden raisins and cranberries too. wrapped in bakery paper, the white waxy kind.

it’s a quiet i’ve carved in tiptoeing down the stairs early and all alone. it’s a quiet i find in feeding my birds.

it’s a quiet inside that comes when you learn, at last, to whisper, this is enough. this says it all.

and so you pull a sled through the ridges of snow. you knock at a door, and hand over bread and a card and a merry, merry that says in so many ways: thank you for making my days as rich as they are.

merry merry to each and every one of you. those who still come here, and those who’ve not been in a very long while. i never forget a one of you.

may your december days be blessed through and through.

what’s on your thank you list this december?