24 December 2008

My Christmas, This Year

It is a small, unpainted wood house barely large enough to exceed the space of My living room/dining room. A door in front with a tiny fenced balcony; a door to the back left that leads to he remnants of an outhouse, still visible in the scraggly grass.

The house has a peaked roof, in the style of rural buildings of the 30s and 40s. It may be the fifth or sixth incarnation of a house that saw the light of the day in the Great Depression, or earlier, and settled into a land that saw a dirt trail become a dirt road, then a paved country road.

A stone's throw away are dozens of homes, large concrete boxes studded with satellite dishes, an electronic gate breaking the long cement wall that separates them from the rest of the world. The wooden house sits slightly above all of them, possibly in many ways.

For months this house catches the eye for its location, on a slight curve, atop a slight rise, the only building on a narrow stretch of land that dips into a valley. A sign near the gray wood house declares that "26 cuerdas" are for sale. There's more paint on the sign than on the house.

But just after Thanksgiving, when the seasonally-fresh winds of aires navideños start to swirl, the wooden house of daylight becomes a fairy tale cottage of multicolored lights. The house itself is framed by lights, the shiny lines connecting frame to trees to bushes to a distant decoration that leads the eye to a sign now colorfully dark. Even when you know the house is there, you're caught by surprise, a trick of angle and speed and contrast. 

I drive almost every day past this house, more than half the time with My son. We are usually talking about sports or school or books or science or history or whatever the heck pops into Our heads, but I always notice the small wooden house on the rise. Now it signals the joy of a season, a joy of giving and sharing that perhaps this house--these people--cannot accommodate most of the year. They can now, they do, and from a humble frame comes a festival of color.

Despite spending most of My Christmases in Puerto Rico, I haven't been comfortable with any of them. I grew up in the States, where Christmas is a one-month deal, quieter, oddly more secular and yet more pious than Our local version. There, the 26th is a massive hush, a finality. Here, the end never seems in sight, the noise is constant, the alcohol is not spice but main course and one month is September and the other is January and they, along with every month in between, are also Christmas.

For years I yearned for My Christmas. It made Me sad, with disappointment swelling every year. Until the day I realized that "My Christmas" was never to be unless I changed. As much as I could, I let go of My Christmas Past and looked to create My Christmas Present.

Yes, pun intended.

I found it in the songs I wanted to hear by playing them Myself, alone. I found it in solitude and quiet moments. I found it searching for gifts, not expecting them. I found it in embracing the joy I felt kinship with and ignoring the excess I wanted no part of. I found a Christmas that wasn't exactly Mine, but was closer to My heart... and happier.

Sharing Christmas with My son hasn't turned out how I expected, but it is in many ways better than I envisioned it. Christmas is indeed for children, for the simple joy and hope they embody. And I have found that simple joy and hope in the lights that dazzle the eye from a home that may lack in size and beauty from what most if Us deem worthy, but is drenched with the warmth and the kindest spirit of Christmas. 

That is My Christmas, this year. They're getting better all the time.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

2 comments:

ramonathebrave said...

Even though I am not big on Christmas, I truly enjoyed reading this.

Have a Happy New Year!

Gil C. Schmidt said...

Thank you, Ramona! I hope you had a pleasant holiday season and I wish you all the best in 2009 and beyond!