Sweetie asked me this morning about the ghost of Christmas(s) past that has me longing to be a child again. Before I could form an answer, my eyes started leaking. I could feel that little girl inside me longing for those days.
There are only a few gifts that stand out in my memory - a baby doll and a cradle, my first pair of real stockings (with a garter belt - ooh lala), and a cedar lined hope chest. It's the feelings I recall most, that I long for. The anticipation. The excitement of waking up on Christmas morning wearing pajamas we'd been allowed to open the night before. The self absorbed delight wrapped in pretty paper, oblivious to the tired red-rimmed eyes of my parents who had only gotten a few hours sleep. The sense of family (think Norman Rockwell here even though we were far from it) that hovered in the room where our stockings were hung. An afternoon spent playing with new toys, or feeling more grown up. My grandparents coming for dinner. Again, oblivious to my mom spending most of her day in the kitchen. To be honest, I do remember a Christmas meltdown or two, so it wasn't all perfect. It's hard to know which memories are real, and which I've magnified over the years.
I've have played and replayed Mary Chapin Carpenter's Christmas Album for about a month now. You'd think I would know every song by heart, but I don't. I throw in a lot of la la's between the words I do know. Part of what I'm feeling floated into my consciousness last night as I drove home from work. As if hearing it for the first time, I heard this stanza of Christmas Carol*
Because Christmas is for children's joyFor every single girl and boyThat's the truth we come to understandBut the memories that don't let goLike Beatles songs and falling snowCan make us feel innocent again.
Innocent. That's what I want. I want to see the season's magic again through an innocent child's eyes.
Sweetie has transformed himself over the past 6 months into Santa's twin brother. It's hard to live with Santa when it's August in Florida and the temperature hovers around 100 degrees. It kind of made me hot just looking at all that hair and made me ask on several occasions if he was ever going to shave again. But when a cold front moves in, and Black Friday has come and gone, being with my own personal Santa is kind of neat. Sweetie went to church with me last Sunday. A first in a long time. Maybe he was trying to shoot his name to the top of his own Naughty/Nice list. At fellowship hour, a young girl approached, kind of tentatively. She wanted to get close. She wanted to believe, but you could see the trepidation in her eyes.
"Are you Santa?" she asked.
"Why yes, I am," replied Sweetie. "Have you been good?"
"A little," she said, holding her thumb and pointer finger close together to indicate she had some work to do.
"Well, that's good," Santa reassured her. I think she breathed a sigh of relief.
I watched and listened as the man I love more than hot chocolate with little marshmallows, topped off with a mound of whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, comforted a questioning child and kept her beliefs in tact. I'm a not so sure I like hinging good or bad behavior on a lie, but this child needed some reassurance.
It was not lost on me that this conversation took place in a church setting. When grownups sit in pews, offering up prayers of contrition and prayers of hope as they struggle to believe in the holy magic that took place on a starlit night in Bethlehem. It's that time of year when we all need to be reminded that being a little good is good enough. It's a time when world weary adults need to be reassured that love and hope do exist. A time ....
When peace will shine in me and you
from Bethlehem to Timbuktu
Even if the forecast is for rain.
Thanks for listening while I try to sort out my feelings.
*Track #11, Christmas Carol, by Mary Chapin Carpenter, 2008, Why Walk Music (ASCAP)