Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Moments


Last night I was wrapping my wife's gifts at my grandmother's apartment, the one in which she hasn't lived since a year ago Thanksgiving. I check on the place weekly, in part readying things for.....my mother's arrival? Eventual sale? Even at this late date, all of that is uncertain.

The visits can be eerie. The apartment is filled with all sorts of collectibles, mostly gifts my grandmother received, but also unused Avon inventory, things my mother meant to sell during her stint as a rep. They just sit and collect dust. The eyes of stuffed kittens and polar bears unmoving day and night. The memories always build when I walk through. I lived with her through part of grad school, awakened many already sleepless nights by her wee hour cries of anxiety. She could never explain why. Maybe nightmares, maybe just her own memories.

She is doing well at the facility now. She's no longer overwhelmed by solitude, the kind she often mentioned to us when we visited. But she misses her place, her home. I assure her that all is well there, that her neighbors usually catch me in the parking lot to get a report.

But last night I had a small moment that becomes bigger the more I ponder. While wrapping I listened to Pandora's "Classic Christmas" station. It cheered up the scene, even the melancholy tunes. When Perry Como's "O Holy Night" came on, I felt something peaceful, comforting.  I've always loved the song, recalling all those times I heard it/sang along during my old church's annual Christmas pageant.

I got up and brought my phone into my grandmother's bedroom. I set it on her night table and walked around, imaging my grandmother drifting off to sleep, comforted by the lyrics. Hearing it just then made everything seem right with the world. A moment frozen in time, in which I could probably wander forever. My grandmother's unceasing faith, the enormity of her generosity, the sense of calm she inspired, it was all there.

I have several memories of little moments of Christmas Past, things that would sound inconsequential to you, but comprise some sort of odd tapestry. This new moment may be the most special.  Merry Christmas.

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