So goes the opening line of a kids’ book. Then, in fewer than 100 words, a story unfolds. It’s not a high-drama thing. Spot bumps a few ornaments and the (single?) mommy dog gently scolds him before telling him good night. The next day they find a bone or some such conventional doggie toy and all is well.
I probably haven’t done a great job of convincing anyone here of how evocative this little story is but believe me, it became a favorite in this house – for building on a feeling of warmth and eagerness that so often accompanies this night before Christmas. (Or you can go the poem route. Same thing.)
[Of course, I’m remembering reality here on Ocean. I just read a few blogs where family members were sick for the holidays, and we wont even go to the more troubled corners of the globe which, at last count, outnumber households of peace, of love, of joy.]
This evening of great music and beautiful colors, of foods and friendship and love has had its share of bumps even in households where all should be calm and all should be bright, such as this one. Some eight years ago I distinctly remember wanting to take the gift ribbon so that I could tie it tightly around someone’s neck until they squirmed. And this morning I woke everyone with a growl. I can’t get your goddamn VCR to work and so if you want to watch your goddamn favorite video later today you can goddamn get yourself someone else to fix the goddamn machine! This blasphemy on Christmas Eve day no less. [Thanks Ed. Everyone should have a friend who can fix goddamn machines on short notice.]
It’s because of all this range of bad impulses and frustrations that surface at the slightest provocation that New Year’s resolutions become so attractive – sort of like the idea of dieting after a pastry indulgence. I’ll be good tomorrow.
For me this day is special. I dig deeply within my cluttered soul to make it so with a determination and insistence that comes from no religion but from knowing that I can and should do better. An unexpected visit (Oscar and B., thank you), a moment at the window watching the fog hide the Capitol, Christmas Eve dinner as it has been eaten since as students we first ate it in Scotland decades ago – fondue, with daughters at our elbows now, with laughter, always with laughter and love.
Happy holidays, happy days, gentle loving days to y’all.
Christmas Eve on the lake: a gathering of friends