Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Place at the Christmas Table

My teen son emailed his father a wish list for Christmas gifts, because it's 2013, and paper is for Luddites. On it were three items. The first two were not particularly extravagant requests. The third item inflated my middle-aged heart as if it were a child's balloon sent up beyond the clouds on a wish and a dare: donation to the Red Cross.

It isn't so much that he included this on his list, although the list did contain only three items, so proportionally the request carried heft. It's that his idea to do so was wholly unprompted. So now I feel like I can cross something off of my own list, the mental list I've kept since I was a little girl with the values I hoped to instill in my own children, among them the moral imperative to help others. 

He'll be on his own soon, my eldest, and I like knowing that he will make good choices: smart ones, and kind ones.


This is a hard time of year for me, as it is for so many others. The people lost to me through death seem as present as if they'd never left. But they are mute. They watch me as I go about my holiday preparations. They nod their approval, or incline their heads quizzically should I misstep. They are with me, so much so that I am tempted to set places for them at my Christmas table. 

Still, I am busy making Christmas memories for my own children, and doing so pleases me enormously. The well-chosen gift unwrapped to a delighted smile is inspiration enough, and there is joy to be found here at my house. There are guests to welcome and make feel at home. There is holiday food to enjoy, food that is rich, decadent, velvety, sumptuous.

So, like many of you, I am sure, tomorrow I will carry joy in one hand and sadness in the other, and the two will balance each other out in a nearly satisfying way.

I will toast my children's futures as I toast my loved ones' pasts, descendants and ancestors intermingling in and about me, all holding pride of place at my Christmas table.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


Nicole said...

Merry Christmas, Sarah.

kim said...

merry christmas to you....i love your blog so much. thank you for sharing your beautiful words. i really feel like we are kindred spirits for many reasons. i look forward to reading much more in 2014!♥

Mary Gilmour said...

How do you do this ... my eyes are all teary.
In fact, my time to mourn is while I am preparing the turkey, and thinking of my lost family members twitting me about crying while I do the onions. The perfect time since if my husband or kids catch me, I can blame it on the onion. And so it goes.
Love to you, my wonderful friend.

Amy said...

merry christmas sweet sarah!

Alexandra said...

Yes. With misty eyes, I'm nodding yes. To find the present enmeshed so beautifully but still with it's delicate pain, is a work of life. Like snow, a lot of work, but oh such perfect still moments. Thank you so much, my friend.

Christine said...

As always, it is as if you reached right into my heart with this, S. You should be so proud of your boy. Merry Christmas!