Tonight after dinner, my son and I went to Strongsville to a street in a development where they deck the houses and sidewalks out so big time that it’s awe-inspiring. They had a few signs up with boxes indicating they take donations, which I could understand as I’m sure the electric bill must be enormous, what with the operating trains and music playing and everything. Upon closer inspection, I saw the donations were to support a family on the street who had recently lost a loved one to a serious illness.
They also handed out free hot chocolate, which D enjoyed, and little pamphlets that had a religious Christmas story on them about Jesus. I am not religious, or I guess I have my own version of religion you might say, but it was a sweet and peaceful story urging magic and togetherness that comes this time of year, whatever your beliefs. Here’s an excerpt:
“We forgot our compulsion with winning, wooing and warring…We stepped off our racetracks and roller coasters…we become a chorus…of longshoremen, lawyers, illegal immigrants, housewives and other peculiar persons…”
As we drove home in the dark, I got lost and D fell asleep. But it didn’t matter. He does not have teachers and bells and math and spelling and tests tomorrow, only a day of playing with friends and eating too much junk food in daycare and running in the gym. Eventually we found our way.
We came home and watched the second half of Elf, which we started last night. He’s never been old enough to enjoy and sit through the movie, but this year, he finds it really funny even if he doesn’t get all of it. The sentimental end left me with tears running down my face, my boy beside me and his bones pressed into mine on our crappy little couch where the cushions never seem to stay in place. Which also doesn’t matter.
He climbed on my back and I carried him to bed, read him a story and soon he will be asleep.
There’s so much I wanted for my life, so many things I wanted to accomplish, want still to accomplish, but I really think sometimes that until you have a child, you really can’t understand what it’s like to be truly happy with less than what you dreamed, because so much of what you didn’t know you dreamed is manifest in the child or children that lay in their beds, that you work so hard to feed and clothe and raise right. Whether they are from your body or someone else’s. Whether they are a friends’ children spending the night, or a relative’s, or just your own. You never thought it would be satisfactory within yourself to achieve less, to make do with “ok,” until you realize it’s everything the kid has, and no matter what everyone else might have, it’s all he needs. And really, all you need as well.
In the end, isn’t that enough? The compulsion to war and win, the racetrack and roller coaster, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, somehow doesn’t seem as pressing. The few gifts you managed to get under the tree, the few more that you managed to help Santa bring that are yet to be revealed, that is your magic, your gift. I don’t care about being cool tonight, being hip, going to the coolest spot, being the thinnest or prettiest or having the most enviable job or paycheck or home. None of that really matters on a deeper level, and if you haven’t found that level, I hope one day you do, that someone helps you to find it. I would help you find it somehow, if I could.
It was there, in that space inside, that I found my Christmas spirit tonight.