Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house...
Whoops. Just looked at the clock - it's the big day already. St. Nick has come and gone. And although most of the creatures, both two- and four-legged, are nestled all snug in their beds, a couple of us are still awake. I can never sleep after a whirlwind day of my usual last-minute shopping, baking and trying to remember where I hid presents I bought weeks ago. And the night is young for my night-owl older son.
I'm glad for the company.
Every year I worry that I won't be able to pull this off but somehow it comes together - with a lot of help from my mother and daughter. And although the stockings are not hanging by the chimney with or without care (they're not hanging anywhere - I couldn't find them) the scene that'll greet my kids in just a few hours reassures me they probably won't even notice.
(I vainly tried to get my three dogs to assume cute yet artful poses amongst the packages but two of them wouldn't cooperate; they almost shredded the paper on a couple presents as they frantically clawed their way out from under the tree, while the other one came dangerously close to lifting his leg near the package containing one son's new Puma sweatsuit.)
For the past twelve years I've often had a heavy heart on Christmas Eve. Memories of other Christmases elbowed their way in, demanding to be remembered. Memories of people and places that no longer exist, crowded my mind for attention, insisting on comparison with the present.
In my wildest dreams I never imagined Christmas could be a time I'd dread and try to wish away instead of looking forward to it.
I don't feel that way this year; it seems like a stubborn low pressure system has finally lifted. Maybe better weather's on the horizon. But I know there are plenty of others who feel the way I have.
As I think of my four sleeping children, safe and sound for now, I can't help but also think of the families in Connecticut whose memories of this time of year will be forever tied to sorrow. Or anyone else who might be mourning a loved one or suffering a loss, made more painful when they look back and remember how it used to be.
I wish whomever's reading this a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and to anyone who may have a mind clouded by grief or a heart burdened by pain my wish is that it eventually rises, just like St. Nick commanded his reindeer:
"Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
At least for Christmas, may sadness fly away like dry leaves.