Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Where's the Spirit?

West Sixth Street Shop Window Reflection

The Visible Woman...opines.

This time of year was filled with glee when I was a kid. Even if Christmas didn't always bring all the things I hoped for (and it usually didn't given the money my parents had) it brought this precious time off from school. Mom taught school from the time I was ten or so and she would be off from work, too. We would see relatives. We would wrap packages and anticipate. We'd sing carols. My sister and I may have even devised our own live nativity or other production. My grandmother's homemade rolls and cinnamon rolls and her giblet gravy can make my mouth water from the distance of many years. I especially liked the time when we were eating leftovers and the table was cleared for a board game (or a card or domino game) or a jigsaw puzzle. I'd wake up each morning of the school break feeling the great anticipation of another lazy day playing with new things or reading a book or playing with friends or family.

I didn't pay much attention to the impending new year as a kid. 

After college there wasn't as much time off but there was always a day or two. We kept the excitement, my mom and I, with visits from my young nieces and my cousins' kids. I had a little money since I had a job and I enjoyed buying many, many gifts. At least one year I tried for a gift for every kid we'd see and my cousins were, at that time, in their child-bearing years. 

The after Christmas time became even more fun. I enjoyed the steaming cups of coffee (I became a coffee drinker in college) and the leftover pie around the table playing games or putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. 

I didn't pay much attention to the new year that loomed. I'd forget the date on the checks for a while. I'd file my ultra simple tax return. EZ form? Probably. Maybe I'd find a New Year's Eve celebration.

My mom has been dead for eleven years and her love of Christmas is fading from my mind. Although I do remember one Christmas Eve. My sister was visiting with the two little nieces. My cousin and his wife were coming over for Christmas with three little ones. She made me arrange Santa Claus gifts. She sent me to Sears at the mall on Christmas Eve to get a new needle for her sewing machine because she was stitching up stockings for each person with their name on them. I believe I drove the little ones around to see Christmas lights while Santa did his thing. If Mom were still around I'm betting she'd make us get in the spirit of the day, kids or no kids. Some wrapped presents, some decor, a puzzle or game.

Now I'm older. There are no young kids in my family nearby. I rely on my nieces in Colorado and my sister to create Christmas excitement for their kids. Cousins' children are grown and some have kids but I don't see them. Their grandparents, my cousins, are hopefully getting involved in those celebrations like our parents did. Hopefully the jigsaw puzzle and non-video games are part of it. And I don't know if I'd be up for that chaos. We will have a Christmas dinner with some friends who have the wife's parents and sister in for the holidays. We'll probably watch sports and eat and drink too much. I've already unwrapped my present from Forrest because he wanted to be sure I liked it. (It's a small collage object by Lance Letscher. A book. I do like it.) He just asked when we could open our presents. But only he still has one to open. One of our old family traditions is giving hints about presents. I told him his present was two things and one he could use today and one he couldn't. The present is a nice umbrella and a muffler. It's cold today (thirties) here but no rain forecast. 

And now Christmas brings the depressing thought of the New Year. My taxes are complicated. I owe tax forms right away to the government for business stuff and to people I've provided with mortgages. The arduous process of collecting things for our own 1040 begins. And, honestly, another year has disappeared? I haven't learned enough, written enough, I haven't organized my life enough. I haven't traveled to all those places I'm interested in seeing. Door shuts on the year and on possibilities for me. Oh sure one can hopefully make New Year's resolutions and see the new year as this wonderful stream of time to accomplish things. I've done that. See here. Or going back really far: here or here are some I made for other people, for society at large. I'm sure there are old paper journals with scrawled promises to myself in the archives, too. But the hope is pretty much extinguished now. Time marches on and you just hope you'll be in the parade and glad to be there.

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