Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

Brilliant sunshine lit the morning, filtering in through the bedroom windows, slipping between the curtains to announce the beginning of the day. Rolling out from under the covers with some trepidation I could smell the fresh pot of coffee waiting on the kitchen counter. With the cat squinting at me from the folds of the comforter, I threw on a robe and slippers. Wiping away the veil of sleep and the results of too many glasses of wine I shuffled my way to my favorite cup.  A sip of warm acrid coffee brought on a change in the senseless stupor and the realization that it was Christmas morning. 

A quick glance around the living room brought on the assurance that my fantasy of having a surprise visit from St. Nicholas was just that – a fantasy. Hmmm hope against hope… Sitting down for a few minutes I was joined by the cat, weaving her way between my feet. Reaching to her stocking hung precariously on the wall I pulled out a newer version of her favorite toy. Tossing it across the floor in hopes of sending her bounding after it I was met with a most catlike glare and indifference.  She sauntered over to the sparkling blob, gave it a sniff or two and then headed for the back door. Dutifully following her I opened the door for her regular morning trek – shortened the last few days by the snowfall.

The ground goodness was beginning to work its magic, helped by a hot shower. Dressed comfortably in a pair of well worn jeans and my beloved pullover sweater I sat down on the couch again. Another slower surveillance of the room confirmed I was here alone, alone on Christmas day. Sitting back I closed my eyes in an effort to rationalize my way out of despair. I don’t have anyone close to share the holiday with, mostly because of my own short comings.  But then I began to recall some of the things I’d experienced last evening, Christmas Eve. I had put on a playlist that included a number of my Dad’s favorite carols – most in Italian and lay back on the same couch with a glass of wine. Christmas candles flickered in the darkened room and as I drifted away images and sounds and aromas of Christmases past filled my mind. I began to remember some of the most vibrant Christmas eves - we would sit around the living room and Dad would play his favorite Christmas music… we’d listen to all the popular artists until it was time for bed. Once we were tucked away waiting for the sugar plums he and mom would put on Mario Lanza, Caruso or Toscanini singing carols in Italian. I can still hear the foreign words being sung to familiar tunes as I drifted off to sleep. Even after we all grew up and left the house to return on holidays, every Christmas morning I remember there would be the well worn record sleeves of Italian Christmas carols stacked neatly near the stereo. In an effort to recreate that feeling I sat quietly in the darkened living room, lit by only the tree lights and a few candles listening to some of some of the same songs. There is a certain beauty and emotion that those songs seem to have that the English version doesn’t always have.

Immersed in the sounds I discovered that I was not really here alone, after all this IS the house I grew up in. Memories sprang from the shadows of the room of Christmases we enjoyed together years ago. Melting into that were remembrances of other places, other people, other Christmases. Lying out on the top of a sandbag bunker in 80degree weather with a group of buddies, then leaving them behind a year later to land in a snow storm at the old Stapleton airport; sharing part of the day serving food to a group of senior citizens, most not much older than me. A kaleidoscope of images filtered their way in and out of mind.

No, not really alone! Shaking it off I moved over in front of the pc, gave the space bar a push to bring it to life. After reviewing the news – nothing earth shattering or worthwhile, I gave FB a click… no, not really alone. Spent some time on the phone with old friends from Viet Nam and high school, a few emails too - no, not really alone. From my post on FB, “I hope that the day has brought you special moments that will become memories that you will covet for years to come.”  Covet your memories, they may turn out to be all you have for a time, but do not let them become your future.  

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