Christmas Presence

20 Dec

Christmas Presence 2013My role for years, as the only kid in my family, was to believe. To believe in magic. To believe in love. To believe in the sanctity of our home. To make us a family. To be gleeful. To be sure my eyes lit up so brightly on Christmas morning that my Mom across the room would be caught in my eye-light’s high beam. My light made her smile. Still does, I think. Not sure.

But one year, after Mom returned to the hospital at the end of a one-day pass, I yanked down the tinsel garland draped over all the doorways in our house. I collected the shiny Santas and the snowman clutter from the tabletops and the top of our piano, and I shoved them all back into their boxes. I called an end to Christmas before the day was done. I was finished with the sham.

My dad stood stunned, stung, flabbergasted. I held my fists in balls and dared him to stop me. He would not. He knew I needed this. But through his eyes, I saw my own fury, and allowed it to ebb, ever so slightly – or maybe it was his open mouth that called me back. I did not right then, right there un-decorate the tree. For both our sakes, I left it to twinkle a few more days. Somebody (or something), after all, needed to supply light if I was done. I may have known that much.

What I didn’t know yet was that I had closed down my Christmas spirit for years to come. Maybe his, too. What I didn’t realize when I left that small tree to glow in my place was that Christmas is what we make it, what I make it, how I make it. This, it is taking me years to grasp.

How I make it — and I need to remind myself this every year, every hour, every minute of every hour every year when Christmastime comes around — is with presence. Not presents, but presence.

It’s the care I put into selecting or creating each gift. It’s the preparation of food on Christmas Eve. It’s the brewing of coffee on Christmas morning. It’s carols. It’s candles. It’s cards written to people I love. It’s the scent of evergreen.

It’s children – yes – and pets, too. It’s recognizing the magic in people I love – or in people I don’t yet know. It’s the neighbor who leaves just what I need on my doorstep (cookies, a snow shovel, the scarf I left at her house the other day). It’s someone’s hand in mine. It’s locking eyes with my Honey or my girls for a moment between photos.

It’s what I make it, how I make it, who I make it with.

It’s the last-minute text message from a close friend inviting me clothes shopping one week before Christmas – clothes shopping for ourselves. It’s dinner out with another dear friend – sushi, back home for beer and bourbon, TV, conversation – up the next morning, hanging out in my PJs with this same friend, coffee in our steaming mugs, everyone’s hair a mess.

I remind myself daily – more than daily now – to open my Christmas presence. Simply open myself. To what is magical. To what is fresh. To what is.

And I remind myself to share the light. However crookedly it sits on our darling tree.

Crooked Christmas StarMerry Christmas.

From our house to yours.

With love,

RoiAnn

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8 Responses to “Christmas Presence”

  1. Shannon December 20, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    Merry Christmas, my friend. I love your spirit.

    • RoiAnn December 20, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      The feeling is mutual ❤ Merry Christmas to you.

  2. debweeks December 20, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    So many thoughts running in my head and yet no words to express how this post has touched me.

    Even with the best intentions, I make it difficult to be completely present this time of the year as I prepare for the holidays. You have reminded me that many of the gifts under the tree will one day be gone and forgotten, but the memories created will carry on.

    I’m sorry that not all your Christmas memories are pleasant ones. I hope that this season is providing many beautiful memories for you and your family for share.

    • RoiAnn December 30, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

      Many beautiful memories, indeed. One of the best this past week was after a busy, busy, busy day with tidepools and family and books and walking and family and California sunshine, just lying next to my daughter for a few minutes at bedtime, sharing the highs and lows of our day.

      Thank you for your words – and I hope you had some present, connected time, too.

  3. Deb Rox (@debontherocks) December 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    I love this very, very much. Thank you.

    • RoiAnn December 30, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

      Thank you. I’m glad to know there was something here that touched you.

  4. Kathy December 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Your “Christmas Presence was “wow” !
    I love what Christmas means to you now; children, pets, people you love and who love you
    drinking steaming coffee in your PJ’s, a cold one at night while your and my Kelly has her
    bourbon and so many wonderful things to appreciate.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Love to you, Kelly, Grace and dear, darling Eva B.

    • RoiAnn December 30, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

      Love to you, too, Kathy, and Merry Christmas!

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