December 22, 2006

Splitting a satsuma.

No snow. No frost, even, usually.

The only sign that it's Christmas are the twinkle-lights in the trees, Starbucks' holiday specialties (the Peppermint Mocha and the Eggnog Latte), and the commercial frenzy, the nightly staged indoor snowfall at the downtown mall encouraging more spending, more, more. The clash of hope and dissapointment, faith and capitalism, frenzy and isolation, charity and greed -- and the bustle, more than anything, building to a deafening roar synonymous with Christmas.

Everyone clutching, grasping, hoping for the same thing, sometimes catching hold of it by a slippery tail -- just for a moment, spirits soaring -- only for it to, a moment later, slide just out of reach.

There's a lot of sadness and quietness and loneliness hidden just under the surface of this season; a poor girl dressed up for a moment in borrowed clothes, the tags still on.

And yet.

And yet, it's a little magic.

Not a lot magic, not magic like when you were little and pulled out your tooth two days before it would have come out on its own just so you could stuff it under the pillow and try to stay up all night to catch the tooth fairy under there.

Or tip-toeing down to the living room in the middle of Christmas Eve night; going slower and quieter than almost any 6 year old can stand to, tips of your fingers trailing the walls, avoiding the creak in the third-to-last stair, expectantly reaching to pat the stocking you know hangs from the banister, imagining what might be there but unable to see in the deep and silent black.

And not a lot magic like when the sun hit the clouds just right in the late summer afternoon, the rays streaming down through the trees in a way that reminded you of the illustrations of God in your kid's bible - those bright, near-solid beams of light from the sky, the sense that you were suddenly caught in the presence of God making the tiny hairs on your arms stand on end.

And not magic like that first sudden dip and swell of the possibility of love, or, later, the hammock of new love turned to something else - a retreat, sustenance.

Not quite that magic, but.

Magic, a little, still. In snippets in all the days around Christmas:

The glow of a family room, hot with a fire and the Christmas tree its only light.

You and I lying on the couch, toe to head, clutching full bellies, Charlie Brown's Christmas on the radio, barely touching fingers, not speaking.

My brother, back from college, all broad and tall, loading up the woodbox for my mom, each piece making a heavy thud. When he finishes and comes back inside, the scent of aged wood and sap on his hands, the glow of pride and a cold morning on his cheeks.

The humble celebration we'll have on Monday: a board game, pots of coffee consumed while we talk about politics, travel, family, what we don't know. While we talk about talking; when we talk, as we do, about how we talk.

I'll split a sastuma -- three ways.

Four Yahtzees in one game! Who would believe it?!

Let's let the dog in tonight, just tonight.

What is "Yule Tide", anyway?

It's harder than you think, splitting a satsuma three ways.

There's no snow. No frost, even.

There are no elaborate gifts, no huge gathering of extended family, some of them almost strangers. No midnight mass, no relative dressed up like Santa.

Everything will not go right. I'll burn the 3-minute peanut brittle, a recipe I know by heart and the easiest thing to make. She'll be overly busy, doing what she can to avoid a moment of silence, loneliness; pressured, a little, as I am, by her hope for a perfect day. My brother will answer the phone in the middle of dinner.

And yet.

And yet, in these things, not in spite of them, we three will notice: It's a little magic.

Not a lot, not too much. Nothing showy or obvious. A little magic.

Just enough.


Happy Holidays. May they be just enough, just right, a little magic.


jali said...

That was lovely.

Merry Happy to you!

Trebuchet said...

Thank you. Same to you, and a happy new year...