The Third Third

Merry Christmas, 2010!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! I made my lists, both mental and on multiple legal pads.  Checked them twice.  Checked every single item off them.  And thoroughly enjoyed a Christmas-tide and Christmas Day full of joy, family, and friends.  My guilty little secret is that I did it all for me, because I love it – I love the cooking and the gifting and the wrapping and the trees whose ornaments chronicle four decades of my adult life and the literal home-making for all who will come home at this very special time.   I love listening to the women I encounter at this time of year, too – conversations I overhear in the grocery store or at the manicurist, conversations we engage everywhere we go as we meet or volunteer or work or party because we are, all of us at this time of year and this stage of our lives, the Christmas-makers:  *Are you ready?  Will you be here for Christmas? Are all your kids coming in? * In the questions and their answers there more and more often emerges (now, finally), a hard-won wisdom that Christmas will be what we make it for ourselves and our loved ones, and acceptance that it will be grandly imperfect, rife with tension and wrought with emotion. (*Why are you crying, Ann?* my husband asks during church.  But he knows. *Who are you missing?* And I whisper, *My mom and \___\____.* He knows.  He holds my hand.  There’s dampness around his eyes, too.  We sing *Oh come, all ye faithful.* But we know some can’t come and some won’t and some aren’t faithful. And then we sing *Joy to the World*, anyway.)   It was amazing this year:  my father, whose heart and lungs kept him from the Thanksgiving table, rallied (by sheer force of will, I am sure) to join us for Christmas Dinner; our 8 month-old grandson was absolutely delighted by ribbons and tissue paper; and our grown children’s gift exchange involved contributions to charities uniquely meaningful to each of them.  It was, truly, wonder-full.  And I thought *I* was the Christmas-maker?  In fact, *they* are.  I just set the stage.  And en-joy. Now, however, normal life resumes.  I can write again.  I can exercise.  I can pay bills and file paperwork.  Twelve Days of Christmas?  Not this year.  Not for me.  Twelve days of Christmas cookies, perhaps, but that’s it. Again, a belated Merry Christmas to you and yours.  
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