For many of us, this is a season for the way we’ve always done it.
When I was growing up, it went something like this…
Three kinds of cookies. Always the same. Just like Granny.
Church, when I got old enough to insist.
Gifts on Christmas morning.
Most years, leg of lamb and, later, wild rice pudding. A wrestling match over who stirred the gravy.
Ed Ames and Andy Williams singing versions of carols that still run through my head.
(Feel free to adjust the details so they feel familiar to you!)
This year, though, has been different in our world and, just now, it feels like much farther than an hour and a half long flight from the deck of a ship wandering the western Caribbean, rocking my dearest ones gently.
And I, who generally “sort for” different, am oddly undone.
I’ve spent much of the day looking for words. It hasn’t been a wild success!
Just before brunch, I spent about an hour playing with a riff on Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas.
It started something like this:
’twas the day before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
No stockings were hung on the bookshelf this year. Our gifts had come early. Our people most dear.
The beasties were settled, all snug in their beds, while memories of Camp friends danced in their heads.
And Bill in his hoodie and I with my scarf were plotting and planning a long winter’s nap.
Well, you get the drift… And then, just a bit later… out on the lawn there arose such a clatter!
Red winged blackbirds, 100 or so, fluttering from ground to trees and wires, some of them pausing on the roof of the house across the street.
A dark cloud with flashing points of fire. Like the recent flock of crows but decorated for Christmas! Up and down. Swirling and arching in a perfect ballet.
And then, just two, in the skeletal dogwood, just beyond the roses.
A sign, says my book of symbols, of a very large gift.
Come to encourage all who are open to draw out from each self the beautiful being aching to be born.
Which is, when you think of it, quite a huge thing that started long, long ago and lives within each of us and keeps growing and growing until all the world will glow with love.
Unlikely angels, those blackbirds, but singing peace and good will all the same.
May it be so for you and for those you love, however it is this year, now and forever.