Right here, right now, I want to catch hold of you in the glow of the lights and the holly and the garland. I want to stop with you, stop the rushing and the baking and the cleaning and the chaos and the moving any kind of direction that feels like forward. I want to be with you in a moment where all I let you know is how beautiful you are to me.
Because you know what the days surrounding Christmas made me realize this year? We will never have another one that is just like this. This same combination of people and food and memories and songs. And as wonderful and as perfect as that is, it’s a little sobering. And while a little part of me which is influenced by Poe wants to sink into despair with that knowing, the bigger part of me realizes and accepts that this means I have to cherish it.
And I’m not sure why I realized it this year. Maybe because on the eleventh I turned twenty, and it blew my mind a little bit to think that I’d never be nineteen again. Maybe because a girl who I learned how to wear hair bows with stretched out her left hand last week to reveal a shiny symbol of the new family she is creating. Maybe because Mom received a call carrying hard news about the health of her brother, the man who I feel gloriously inadequate to make music with, who taught the me value of an orange. And this made me remember what my first Christmas without my Pa felt like, and how everything felt wrong. Maybe because I feel like I’m suddenly growing up. And Mom and Dad are giving me space to use the wings they so lovingly gave me. I can’t tell you why this Christmas feels important.
Maybe it’s because somewhere in the twelve months between this Christmas and next, the world might end for me, or it might end for you.
And as much as I pray to my precious Lord that this doesn’t happen, if it did… somehow the world at large would find a way to go on.
The lights would still flicker on next Christmas, as if humanity needed more proof that our hearts crave all things bright and beautiful.
The mistletoe would still be hung, as if we ever needed an extra reason to linger somewhere, watching to see if the one we care for might dare to linger too. As if we ever needed any kind of reason to hope that the only one we care for was worth waiting for there under the greenery. As if we need a reminder that we are in a desperate state of needing to be clung to.
The presents would still be wrapped and given, as if we needed a reminder that others deserve our best, and that there is joy in sharing the kind of laughter which accompanies ripping paper in morning. Just that there is joy in the sharing of the mornings.
And I know if it were your world that stopped revolving, my world would never be the same again. It would find a way to go on, somehow, but I would think of you in the everyday. And I would miss you more on the special days. The way I miss the ones I’ve lost now as I hang ornaments and dust off picture frames, and prepare the dishes that we shared around a table when I was young enough to be sitting at “the children’s table.”
Maybe that’s the point of this. All of these words I’m writing here on the paper.
I’ve never been good at keeping things simple, but maybe what I’m trying to say this Christmas just comes down to this.
I am thankful that the lights are shining on us here together.
I am so glad I can come see you this year.
I wish we had more time to spend together.
I am making spaces in my prayers for you.
I am so happy that I have shared another year with you.
I am grateful for your friendship.
I am filled with joy for our family.
I am happy God gave us to each other.
And maybe even simpler still:
I am loving you.
-Jessi Sanders 2012