Awake in a mostly-sleeping house, I find time to be still and contemplate before the day gets underway. Christmas is such a marker of the passage of time and of the status of our hopes and dreams – or so it feels to me at the moment. No matter how I feel about what our culture has done to Christmas, it is a celebration that has occurred in each and every one of my 55 years – and so it is a touchstone. From my vantage point in 2007 I survey backward over my years of Christmases. Then, zooming in close, I remember the year that’s just passed and reflect on all that has transpired in those 365 days … what I’ve learned, where I’ve changed … people/experiences/lessons that have come new to me this year … and things that have passed.
As I write I’m listening to one of the old albums I “digitalized” with my Numark turntable. The Spinners … “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love?” Hearing the old songs, time suddenly foreshortens and I am back in 1972 or 3 as if it were yesterday. Sunshine heats the warm April walkway from Parrish Hall to McCabe library at Swarthmore College. My jeans are patched and my hair is long. Nothing extraordinary is happening … just a walk from my mailbox to the library. A spring day in the early ’70’s is unfolding in front of me. Birdsong trills … then I enter the shade and coolness of the library. Soft carpeting muffles my steps. So quiet and full of purpose it is. I sink into the feeling of it.
What amazes me is how real it can feel … how fully I can feel myself back there. And just like that, when I think back to past Christmases, they can be right here. Faces long gone are gathered amidst wrapping paper and ribbon. I like that – it’s all here inside … waiting to be seen/felt/smelled/heard again … and maybe that’s the biggest gift of all!