December 18th, 2023
I always wake early. I have stopped wishing otherwise. There is a magic to the early morning. The vata is high, vata in the ayurvedic/yoga tradition holds the elemental energy of sprit, breath, creativity and collective consciousness. I know the winter mornings are hard but I love coming out to the dark living room and flipping on the Christmas tree. I love the soft light of it, the dog sleeping at the foot of it, the twinkle of little ornaments gathered from our travels. It is the perfect light in which to meditate and write.
It is a tradition we have that when we travel to collect ornaments. Sometimes we make a big effort of finding the perfect one. Sometimes we just grab a silly one from the airport. Rarely do we forget. From here I can see a glittering octopus from the Bahamas, a glass sea horse from Tampa, a little Hawaiian boy with a lei around his neck wearing a glittering sarong, a delicate buffalo from a -10 degree Christmas in Buffalo NY at my brothers beautiful home and a big fat fairy that someone gave me because it reminded them of me. I could have taken that gift personally but truly she is a fabulous fat fairy, and you don’t see too many of those.
Of course, there are a few from my childhood that I made and one precious one of Scott and his siblings. This is one of the only pictures I have of him as kid. Family pictures where amongst the many things lost in a difficult divorce. I look for traces of my own kids in his goofy smile and 70’s haircut. What I see is that he had a very different childhood than them. I see his fragile sister and hints of Maya in her big blue eyes. I see the dark piercing eyes that his brother passed on to Lucia, eyes that don’t miss a thing. I also see that his brother, like Jack, had dirty blond hair until he hit adolescence. I look at Scott again and whisper back to his ten year self, “It will all be worth it, I promise.” Scott told me his parents always tried to make Christmas special. They worked hard to make sure they all got something they wanted. Christmas for the most part was nice. I am so glad he remembers it that way.
Our first Christmas married I bought Scott a base guitar. When I met Scott he was in a band his roommate Jay started with students from Cornell Medical which is in NYC. On our first date Scott played and sang “Brown eyed girl” on a borrowed base. It worked, I climbed into his bed and never left. Our first Christmas married I was on a mission to give him a guitar of his own, one he could play and serenade me with for years to come. Jay and I trudged through NYC slush to a cool used guitar shop downtown called Chelsea Guitars. We found the perfect one, humming with magic and carried it home on the subway looking like we had a gig to go to. On Christmas morning Scott came out to his new guitar with a armful of wrapped presents for me. I was so surprised. He said “I like big Christmas’s.” This somehow made me feel safe, an unexpected intersection of similar values and culture. We would be Christmas people. He strummed a cord or two without an amp in his new Christmas slippers but it still sounded real good as I made coffee in the coffee maker from our registry.
The Saturday after New Years Eve Scott’s extended family will fill up our driveway with license plates from NY, NJ, PA and VA for a full day and night of Christmas. 25+ Christmas people will arrive with bagels from NY, Ziti from Queens, Taco dip from PA, Stromboli from VA and something gluten free from Jersey. The beer will come in coolers ready to drink and a big bottle of Baily’s Irish Cream will be put down next to the coffee maker for late night poker. Everyone will cheer a “Hey!” “Yo!”, “Look what the cat dragged in!” as each person arrives. Someone will have a cold but they will get hugged anyway. The NYC Queens accents, the borough of origin for the Scott’s side, will be thick and get thicker with the booze. The gift of a brand new baby will carefully & discriminately get passed around. Hopefully I will sit down long enough to get a turn. Everyone will give and get presents. Wrapping paper will be thrown at unsuspecting heads and crotches, Inappropriate presents will be given anonymously during the white elephant. Laughter will erupt and errupt from all corners of the house and the walls will soak it in like a nosey sponge. Most will sleep over, some may even sleep in the now warm barn surrounded by crystals buried deep in the walls. Regardless I will be sure everyone has some version of a bed. I know I will have plenty of help to make it happen because Christmas people are good helpers. And that is what Scott meant by big Christmas.
The second Christmas of our marriage I was 6 weeks pregnant. We spent that season going around happily announcing that the first Grandchild was on her way. Little did we know that the second granddaughter was also on her way as my sister kept her pregnancy a secret for a bit longer letting me have my moment. Eight months later her daughter Danika was born on the same day, same year, August 7th, just hours after Lucia. This creating a bond between the two girls and my sister and I that is unshakable. Somewhere on the tree are Hallmark ornaments of a “baby’s first Christmas”. I have three of them hanging randomly next to all sorts of other firsts, including a replica of our first dog Walter. Mostly when I look at the tree, I remember all the little hands that learned to be careful and care about the precious things that mark the big things that you don’t ever want break or forget.
Behind me in the kitchen are homemade Christmas cookies in a little red tin that the now grown up, moved away girl next store brought to the sound healing concert held last night in the barn. She too has had a hand in decorating the tree over the years. The butter and sugar in the cookies are calling me. Scott has come out to make the coffee in his boxer briefs and his skin glistens in the light the tree cast. I get up to wrap my arms around him to start the day off right. I can smell the coffee roasting and dripping. Since having covid two weeks ago I still have no desire for coffee. Scott and the cookies on the other hand are another story.