All autumn I’ve been adrift in time, tossed from past to future in equal measure, without feeling roots to the present month, the present day, or even the present moment. The strangeness of the weather – one day below freezing, the next day in the 70’s – hasn’t helped. The record-setting warmth could just as easily signal the beginning of spring, except for the walls of gathered leaves waiting for pickup on the neighbors’ curbs.
It’s the return of Christmas that has me anchored in time at last. Seeing Christmas tree lots on the usual corners and twinkling Christmas lights at the usual shopping centers, hearing old Christmas carols on my favorite radio station, I feel like I’ve come home. The holiday sights and sounds tell me where, and when, I am.
For the first time in too many years, I unloaded the Christmas boxes out of the attic, and decorated a Christmas tree. Charley Dog, who I adopted in 2007, never watched me drag a tree inside her house before. She is still not sure what to think about it. Yesterday she threw her nylabone under the tree, and returned from fetching it with a penguin ornament delicately held in her teeth. I’m sure she thought it was a fair trade.
Unpacking Christmas decorations was like reconnecting with old friends. Some of the ornaments hung on my childhood Christmas trees, and a couple of them hung on my dad’s childhood trees. Most of the ornaments I got as an adult. They hold sweet memories of the places where I bought them, or of the people who gave them to me, and of many happy Christmases past.
My tree is also full of colored lights. Every night I walk out in my front yard to look at it through the living room window. I strung colored lights outside on my dogwood tree and holly bushes as well. Those lights reflect in the window glass, creating a whole rainbow of color I can see from the street. My neighbors don’t go for the “tasteful white” Christmas lights either. We have a riot of color on houses and shrubbery and suspended from trees everywhere I look. I am happy to be a part of creating the neighborhood Christmas sparkle.
Despite three days of open windows and wearing shorts and flip-flops, tonight will be cold enough for a fire. I’ll spend this Christmas eve bathed in the twin glows of the fire and the Christmas tree. After an autumn of feeling so adrift and out of phase with the time stream, I am grateful to feel connected to this celebration of the season, and to feel that I am home.
Whatever and however you celebrate, I hope that you enjoy peace, joy, and connection this Christmas, and in all the days to come.