Friday, December 23, 2011
Do They Even Need A Christmas?
Even though the night is clear, and sown with more stars than normally allowed this close to one of man’s more colossal achievements of a city, still, I cannot see it. I stand in the back garden staring up at fistfuls of shimmering diamonds casually tossed over the dark velvet cloak of a sky, looking for another blue ball with swirls of icing white - a sister, a twin, of my own.
But I am disappointed.
Well, I didn’t really expect to find it.
Too far away, after all.
I had been sitting in the center of Christmas, midst a swirling flurry of red and green - a bit of baking flour on my cheek, a snippet of ribbon stuck to my sleeve - when I first heard the news. Another planet had been found. This one a mirror image of our own, where water flowed and life could presumably flourish.
Information such as this has a profound effect on a dreamer.
It ensnared my thought for days.
So very, very far away .........
do other blue eyes watch the sky, eyes just like my own?
Do other lips sing carols?
Other hands hold other hands?
Do they even need a Christmas?
Is it necessary to remind them not to lie, to hate, to kill?
Would we have to explain war, or illness, or fear?
Would they look at us in horror, or too well recognize our state?
Or was the apple never eaten?
Did they never fall from grace?
The possibilities are amaranthine for this unknown kin wandering round their own blue planet. It floodlights the mind to imagine. I wrap my scarf a bit tighter round my neck as I leave the speckled darkness of the garden, climbing the back stairs with Edward close at my heels. He never worries about such things, I know. Contentment weaves a cocoon around him and he shares it liberally with me. Just sitting beside his quiet soul provides a balm to my own and I am grateful for his sweet example.
But still, I can’t help but look up over my shoulder as I enter the warmth of the house.
So far, far away...
It is always summer, never winter?
Do they even need a Christmas?
You can read more about this newly discovered planet,
found in what scientists call the Goldilocks Zone (I love that), HERE.
Monday, December 19, 2011
He was the mysterious figure in red that sat in the shadows of Christmas. Though I’d never seen him face to face, never hid behind the living room door to watch in amazement as his black booted feet descended from the netherworld of chimney darkness to land like raven feathers on the hearth, still I believed without question in his solid reality. He knew what I wanted for Christmas, always. I didn’t need to write him a letter. I didn’t need to share my requests with my parents, something that for some reason I never quite understood, tended to cause them a bit of consternation.
Why did they need to know what I wanted?
Each year we would make the annual pilgrimage to visit the department store Santas, but being blessed with an imagination that was liberally sprinkled with a healthy dose of suspicion, no one could convince me those fellows were real. There were far too many of them for one thing. And it was a rare occurrence when even one of those chaps remotely resembled the genuine article. Too baby-faced and whiskerless, with beards that tied behind their ears. Or too bombastic and patronizing, lacking even the remotest twinkle in the eye that the real Santa Claus would most certainly have. Oh I still stood shoulder to shoulder with other children my age, as we wound our way through the sugar plum forests and candy cane villages of the toy departments in local stores, waiting my turn to relate to these red-suited impostors the things I most wanted for Christmas. It was a ritual not without amusement and I participated in the festivities quite willingly. But I knew, yes I did, that the actual Santa could only be seen in the silver light of Christmas Eve.
So every year, I would endeavour to stay awake and catch the old elf at his work. I would leave out the cookies and milk for his refreshment and toddle off to bed as usual, never hinting at my plans for a sleepless night.
Snuggled under blankets, eyes wide and heart thumping, I would lie awake in the darkness, my little ears tuned for the sound of sleigh bells, staring, unblinking, at the vertical crack of my bedroom door.
The longer I lay there the more terrified I’d become.
What would I say to him when we met?
Would he catch a glimpse of me and instantaneously evaporate into mist, leaving me stunned and present-less?
Or would he pack me off to the North Pole where I would become a toymaking elf, always wearing green, never to return?
Big thoughts for a little girl.
As the night grew frosty and still as the grave, I would strain to hear the hoof beats of reindeer from up above on my roof, my little body rigid with the increasing terror of my vigil.
And then - how suddenly it always seemed- the pale pink light of a winter dawn would nudge me awake. Awake to Christmas morn! And I would run, slipperless, down the hallway to the living room door and throw it open wide. There would be the Christmas tree shining and bright, almost laughing as it presided over a room full of presents.
The cookies were eaten, yes there were the crumbs!
The milk was drained from the glass!
Later on Christmas Day, when I was sitting amongst my new books and dolls, feeling richer than Croesus, it would hit me. I’d missed him again. Drat. Well, there was always next year, I’d say to myself. Always another chance.
But next year came and all the years after that, and still, ever tricksy, he eluded me.
But perhaps..... just perhaps....with Edward’s help....this year...
One never knows.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
It was a winter wedding, the very best kind, and I was attending alone because The Songwriter was out of town. Ushered into the splendid reception hall, I spied her, sitting beside my uncle at the round flower-filled table in the middle of the room. There was my seat, I could see it empty and waiting, beside her. This particular aunt had always been a bit of a mystery to me - a mystery still unsolved, for I rarely saw her. Straight-backed and starchy, she seemed to wear her propriety like a well-earned badge of honour on a cloak of unwavering religiousity that appeared, at least to me, to preclude any type of whimsy or fun. But this was a wedding reception, I told myself. Surely she’d be a bit more relaxed in this festive setting.
I squared my velvet-suited shoulders and headed her way.
“Hello, Aunt J”, I said, giving her a hug and sitting down.
We exchanged a few pleasantries about the beauty of the wedding and I picked up the golden-edged menu that lay by my plate.
“Ooh, pink champagne”, I exclaimed.
“We Don’t Drink”, came the instantaneous reply, delivered like an edict from on high, stern and autocratic, each word capitalized and underlined in invisible red.
I decided to have a bit of fun.
“You don’t?”, I asked, in what I hoped was a tone of pure innocence. “Oh, but you should! Now let’s see, you’d probably not like sherry or port. Too strong for your palate if you’re just starting out. Although those can be incredibly delicious on a cold winter’s night. But now, pink champagne! I just know you’d love that! You simply must try some when it’s served!”
I could tell by her look of surprise that she thought I had missed her point entirely. It was not simply that she’d never gotten around to having a drink, for Pete’s sake. It was that she did not approve of the practice. How could she make this clear to me?
She began to elaborate her position, just as I noticed the tuxedoed band in the corner, beginning to tune up.
“How wonderful!”, I said with a grin. “There’s going to be dancing!”
“Your uncle and I Do Not Dance”, she sputtered, her face colouring with emotion.
“Oh, but you should!”, I said with a smile, feeling ever so evil but enjoying myself far too much to care. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re good or not, everybody’s just having fun. And I know you’d both love it. What a handsome figure you’d cut on the dance floor! And it’s such excellent exercise. You must try it tonight. No arguments!”
I batted my eyes in her direction and noticed to my great surprise - barely visible, but there nonetheless - an infinitesimal smile beginning to play around the corners of her pursed lips. Apparently, somewhere, deep down deep in her corseted soul, a bit of fun still lurked. She was on to me. And then, my soul, there it was. A grin. A genuine grin. From that moment on we chatted about everything, becoming fast friends before the evening wore down.
We stayed in touch after that wedding, exchanging Christmas cards and visits. She and my uncle even drove miles to hear The Songwriter in concert, my uncle leading the standing ovation at the close of the show.
These days it seems there are chasms that yawn between so many of us. We look across at one another, unsure of the best way to construct a passable, plausible bridge. Far too often I fear we simply retreat, preferring to remain in our more familiar climate where we’re comfortably surrounded by those who applaud our views and beliefs.
I could have easily stiffened at the implied judgment of my aunt that evening we were seated together at the wedding reception. Chilled by her provincial opinions , I could have chosen to maintain a polite, perfunctory silence and the night would have passed by pleasantly enough, I suppose. Instead, as is so often the case, a wee bit of humour was all that was needed to weaken her established defenses and allow us to forge a friendship in the few years remaining before she passed away.
I am grateful I made the effort.
I thought I'd better clarify.
The above photograph is certainly not my aunt.
It's Mamie Eisenhower.
However, the countenance is strikingly similar.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
While it’s true that all my Christmas gifts for friends and family are already wrapped and under the tree, I still like to pop into my favourite shops on a cold December afternoon, just the feel the excitement of the season. A leisurely lunch with a friend or two, then a wander through the gaily decorated aisles of festive stores... so much fun. And you never know, I just might find a treasure I cannot live without.
Here are a few items, all fanciful and fun, I’ve recently discovered.
You just might find a treasure of your own!
1. Fanciful Towels
I’m crazy about these pink carpet bath towels!
In sizes from washcloth to beach towel.
I’m in love with the Queen.
She’s solar powered, and she waves in the sun!
There's even a limited edition wearing her yellow dress from Kate and William's wedding!
I think she’d be perfect sitting on the windowsill beside my desk.
Waving in the sunshine.
This roll-up Pendleton blanket would be wonderful to keep in the car for those times
when Edward and I pass by a particularly beautiful spot
and can’t resist an impromptu picnic.
A way for me to transport Edward in the manner he truly deserves!!
A speaker for the iPod.
Blending the old with the new.
I bet you know a special child who’d flip over this hideaway.
Or maybe a special adult!
Yes, we are a dog family.
But for the cat lovers..... this is fabulous!
To me, wrapping presents is almost as fun as finding them.
And these gift tags are a delight!