I guess this was my 38th Christmas. Oi vey. Somebody check my oil.
This Christmas was different. Solomon is 5. Samson is 3. The mystique of presents underneath a tree is alive and well for them. They are old enough now to remember their experience with the holiday. The pseudo-spiritual, consumeristic glee of erecting trees and recieving gifts. Praise Jesus, I guess. Still, despite my cantankerous cyniscism, the boys couldn't have been more excited for Christmas.
I get it. I was 3. And 5. And 10. And 17. And then I was 38. I've awoke on countless winter mornings, eager to leap out of bed, rip paper, and see what new toys or video games I had to play with. This excitement can't be overstated. I'm also well aware of my good fortune. To be born in this time and place and skin. I'm able, unlike so many other people, to gorge on the goose of good plenty.
And yes, I just wrote the line "gorge on the goose of good plenty." I'm a writer. A poet. Or, at the very least, a lunatic. I make myself laugh.
To be sure, there are many other people, and I'm talking about those with real power and wealth that I don't have, whose gluttonous gorging on that goose can't be overstated. Systematic systems and heirarchies, baby. Beware. I'm not one of those people with real power and wealth. But I'm still fortunate.
Anyway, this Christmas was different. I was really a parent this time. Katie and I worked hard to accumulate presents that might bring the boys a little joy. We created a context for the holiday in a way I haven't done before. The excitement built. We drove through State College on Christmas eve, sipped hot chocalate, and looked at Christmas lights. This was enjoyable until Solomon began singing the 12 days of Christmas at the top of his lungs. The boy has got heart. I'll give him that. Solomon and Samson woke up early on Christmas morning, howled with delight, shook their presents, and begged us to get out of beds. We did, groggily, and they opened gifts. I drank coffee and watched as they boys howled with delight. Each present they opened, no matter how silly, seemed like the most wonderful thing in the world. Solomon played with a toy microphone all morning. He recorded and listened to his screams. Samson drove his enormous Mac truck from the Cars movie around our living room. The boys were in heaven. Katie and I were exhausted, but our work had been successful. Solomon and Samson were delighted.
I miss my family. My mom and my dad. My sister. The childhood family I had, despite its dysfunction, was still my family. And it's gone now. There's no bringing it back. I miss going to my great-grandmother's house on Christmas day, gorging on food, opening presents, and being with my aunt and my cousins. My grandmother too. Those experiences were so exciting to me as a child. Joyful. Magical, even. It was good to be part of a family that loved me unconditionally, even if that family was fragile and often chaotic. I hold those memories, but I'm grateful for what I have now. Two beautiful young boys. A perfect wife. A small family in rural Pennsylvania. Alive, healthy, and faithfully open to what might come next.
It is good.