It’s so easy this time of year to slip into the holiday dark night of the ho ho ho. You go through all the motions, decorate the tree, watch Jimmy Stewart run through Bedford Falls – all of it – and still, there is that sense that something is lost. Childhood, parents, spouse, family. It is never, ever as you recall, and trying to reclaim it makes it worse.
This year, what’s left of our small family drew names instead of cashing in our savings for the mother lode of Christmas gifts. I bought a plane ticket instead to go see my sister in Durango; we have decided to go light on the gifts and heavy on the long walks through the little snowy Main Street, stopping here and there, treating ourselves to a really great dinner on Christmas Eve at the best place in town.
Since I have not to had to face the mall for shopping, I have been able to spend a little time on these weekends leading up to Christmas doing other things. A hike through Loxahatchee on a cold afternoon; watching for manatees at the Ocean Ridge natural area; meeting my friends for drinks at the Porch Bar at the Colony Hotel.
And it even got Christmas-cold last night, the wind whipping around the corners of the house, my dog and my cat smashed up next to me so tight I couldn’t even roll over.
This morning it was in the low 30s, and I walked Sophie down to the ocean. We were all bundled up, the sun was early morning golden and we stopped as usual to look at the ocean: I had never seen it like this – from the breaking waves to the horizon, it was completely swathed in steam, ghostly wisps curling from every square inch. Another thing that was new this year. Another moment I will always remember as Christmas 2010.
I guess that is the point. The past does not have to be the future. We need to honor the holidays with what matters now and what makes us real. Christmas is not only for children; it is for all of us, redefined as the years go by, with all the joy we can bring to it. If that comes from a morning walk by an ocean that is smoking, so be it. Works for me.