Christmas has passed with a sigh of gratitude and relief. This year when people asked me “what do you want?’ I told them to find items that they like and send them on to me. I think this is a nice way of giving. To try to make a list of my own wants is foolish, and this gives an opportunity to see a little bit more about the people in my life. So that was the message I sent out, and I followed the same path when giving, except for some practical gifts to my mother and one of my sisters.
I woke up Sunday morning with the realization that it was Christmas, and I could open my presents. My mother gave me a pair of warm slippers and a sweater, both of which I am wearing as I write this. My father sent along some books on writing and US naval history in the early 19th century as well as a couple of CD’s, one of which is a collection of traditional songs from the Auvergne region in France. As he said, “songs sung by goatherds to their flocks…”. It’s one of his favorites. His wife sent me the new Beatles biography, which I had been eyeing in the bookstore for a couple of months. My sister sent me some Bach, BB King, and a biography of St. Augustine. I received a book on film criticism from her husband. The gifts from my other sister to the north will come back with my mother on her return this week. So Christmas isn’t really over yet.
It has been raining for almost 18 hours now. If this had been snow it would have been up to my eyeballs.
I ordered the remaining books for my Lit class last night from Amazon. I have quite a stack of schoolwork to read already, and the semester hasn’t even begun! I’ll start what I can now and try to get a jump on January 23rd, when my first class meets.
One of the books I am reading is ‘Thousand Cranes’, by Yasunari Kawabata. The novel takes place in Japan during the late 1920’s or early 30’s, when traditional Japanese culture still thrives amidst what the reader feels (rather than sees) as the beginning of ‘modern’ Japan. Much of the story revolves around the Zen tea ceremony. All this is new stuff for me, like most of my life these days.
My visit to my friend’s family on Christmas Eve was wonderful. I was slightly nervous, but when I arrived this disappeared. I found myself acting like a real person in a social situation, not an outsider who needed something to relax or grease the conversation. It turns out that I was a big hit with the family. The food was great, the people witty, quirky, and warm , and I left around midnight feeling the true spirit of Christmas. When I was safely home I watched ‘Scrooge’, the musical with Albert Finney. It has always been one of my favorite takes on the Dickens tale and I watched in wonder as it was revealed that my life had changed in much the same way as old Ebeneezer. I am no longer isolating, hating life, struggling with circumstance, or wallowing in self-centered pity and cynicism. This hasn’t happened overnight, though. It has taken work and a lot of honest reflection. I am no longer a victim to my past, at least for today. Tomorrow may be entirely different.