“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This particular moment is certainly among the best. I wake up to the sounds of a two-year-old boy saying “mommy!” which sounds so very much like “mummy”, which is how I would greet my mother when I was a little boy. (Every so often, I reminisce and wish I had a British accent; everything would be better.) The two-year-old’s “mommy” is accompanied by a five-year-old giggling. My nephew (also my godson) and my niece are the ultimate blessing. It only seems like yesterday that their own mommy was waking me up early Christmas morning, clearly the most excited person on the planet. I wasn’t able to articulate it then, but clearly appreciate it now, wishing that I could bottle my sister’s unbridled joy. In a way she did, only in this case, it now comes in the form of her kiddies.
It’s with those wonderfully soothing sounds that I wake up. My niece’s giggles, however, quickly turn into ear-curdling tears; and I’m not sure why at the moment. I think maybe mommy pulled her hair? I’m not quite sure, but kids have a way of going from cheers to tears in a matter of seconds. Just around the time of her tears, I also think of the recent dearly departed.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” As surely as Christmas is that most wonderful time of the year, it is also a difficult time for many; and the fact that it is Christmas just makes it that much worse. Just in the past few days, a friend of mine I worked with passed away to cancer (losing a battle most of us never knew about), one high school classmate’s wife met with an accident claiming her life, and a high school friend just dropped dead in the middle of his parent’s living room, all sadly leaving behind young children, not to mention a close friend of mine who saw his father pass away, and one of the dearest persons in my life mourned the one year anniversary of her mother’s passing.
Christmas is a reminder that we don’t all get to live the same lives, that we don’t always get what we want, and that on any particular day, one can feel the highest of highs while another can feel the lowest of lows. But it doesn’t mean we don’t stop trying. Admittedly, I tend to gravitate towards the highs. I’ve often been cited saying that happiness is a choice; and I wholeheartedly believe that, but I’m empathetic to those that feel that it’s not a choice, rightfully looking at me like I have two heads for even claiming that it might be. Partly that’s why Christmas is not just about today. I love to celebrate Christmas and its spirit every day. For me, for a very, very long time now, Christmas is not a once a year thing. It’s an every day thing.
For years in Chicago, I would put up a (only real, for reals yo) tree around Thanksgiving and leave it up till at least my birthday in April (and one year as late as June, which was probably a fire hazard, but that’s another story entirely). My yearly ritual included driving to a lot, perusing each and every tree to pick the right one for me. It needed to be at least seven feet tall, full of soft, fragrant dark green needles and tons of branches. Then dress it with tons of lights and ornaments and garland. That tradition took a hiatus once I left Chicago.
This year was different. One recent Sunday, I had a surprise visit from a dear friend in San Francisco on a layover. In an amazing mood after she left, for the first time in three plus years living in Northern California, I purchased a tree, much smaller than the seven foot giants in The Windy City, my Bay Area tree a mere three feet. With 100 twinkling lights, it felt perfect. For weeks, I’ve had Christmas music playing 24/7. And along with the tree, it makes for a perfect welcome home after a day at the office, Taylor wagging his tail this way also adding to the ambience.
Taylor is on the left coast in Sausalito wagging his tail on the trails, while I spend Christmas Day on the playground with the kiddies. I send love to those that need love, while I feel love all around me, from my family and my friends.
Merry Christmas everybody!!!!
Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!
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ALWAYS BE EPIC.