“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
~ Annie Dillard
Christmas evokes powerful memories. Enjoying a blueberry bagel and orange juice for breakfast this morning while sitting near the lighted Christmas tree in our den made me feel like a kid again. For some reason I cannot explain I was small and young and innocent again, even though I’m actually slightly overweight, old, and saddle worn. For those few moments I could see my father sipping morning Maryland Club and hear Mom baking biscuits from scratch behind him. Sister stood nearby holding kitchen towels that she insisted we place around our heads while reenacting the Christmas story. At least she let me play Joseph; I prefer to forget the other time when she made me wear something much less masculine. A flash of light pulled my gaze to brightly papered packages encircling like the Polar Express an artificial blue spruce. Several items remained unwrapped–Santa’s handiwork. The world was wonderful and small and uncomplicated then; love flowed freely and abundantly, and security had a face, two faces to be exact. Mom and Dad would always be there, and they still are after a fashion, inhabiting what Buechner calls a “room called remember.” There were no bills to pay and no battles to fight except the occasional one against my sister, especially when forced to share the rear bench seat of a ’65 Rambler Classic on family vacation.
Christmas was magical in my childhood, and I carry the miracle with me all these years later. The power of Christmas comes from the love we have for one another and the birth narrative we hold in common. When we exchange gifts, drink eggnog, sing carols, light candles, and relish the Christmas story we are banking memories and extending the miracle for another generation.