Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On Why I Decorate

It's Christmas Eve. I've got sweets finishing in the oven and my daughter is working with great intention on tonight's mashed potatoes. Nat croons faintly from the radio pressed against the cold window.

It snowed a bit this morning and the promise of more is set to complete at right about midnight. For now, just enough winks at the corners of each pane to storybook the setting.

My godson may be asleep by the time this posts. I hope he is. He's had a hard day. Many in a row, I'd say. He's lost inside himself, flashing smiles and blurting hugs when he can burst through. But mostly he is crying, out at the world, inwardly to an unrewarding audience.

On our way to see him today, we saw Shane. Calm on the icy concrete of a downtown hustle, an apple at his lips. His curt cardboard gave notice: My name is Shane. Homeless. Appreciate any help. Thanx. Happy Holidays. And then we had to move along, the pressure of traffic behind us insisting.

And my mom keeps the faith. I talked to her, feeling the wear in her voice, wanting to be the comfort of soft cotton and warm blankets, knowing I am not the peace she needs but I am all she has. She is doing the best she can.

We all are, aren't we? We muddle through the dull of life, sometimes crossing, false, catching our breath on sharp pain or delivering disappointment - unwittingly or otherwise. But moving, moving, on and on as the days go by.

My husband asked me the other day why I bother decorating for the holidays. I think he was reflecting on the spiritual meaning of the holiday and wondering aloud whether we, too, were giving way to the cheap and callous.

No. I am not.

Today, I caught that homeless man's eye and I smiled at him, broadly and really. It was all I had to give in the moment and I think he knew it and he smiled, softly, back.

I kissed my godson - when he was ready - and whispered my words of love to him. I'll believe that he heard me and understood.

Some days are for beauty and sweetness and love and filling all the hours you can, however you see fit, with the spirit of giving pleasure and peace to others. That is why I decorate. That is the example of the day. Maybe there are only moments of respite, a table set with care
or a bauble hanging cheerfully. Dwell there. He is there. And be glad for it.

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