Hello, friends. My apologies for being away for so long. Even though you don’t ask for them, I realize how much you rely on these unsolicited essays, and I have been slacking, but now, I’m sitting here at the computer with a mug of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and my fingers are performing their final safety check before lift off. (By the way, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, in the parlance of today’s youth, is DA BOMB! The only thing that would make it better would be sugar-frosted cruller chunks floating in it, but I suppose that’s my responsibility. [Also by the way, “Sugar-Frosted Cruller Chunks” was my nickname in high school.])
Perhaps you can forgive me for my lack of Blog Due Diligence if I tell you that it was in preparation for the holidays. For me, anyway, the holiday is Christmas although I have enjoyed a Hanukkah celebration here and there, and for those of you celebrating Kwanzaa, it begins today. (Of course, if you celebrate Kwanzaa, you already knew that, and you don’t need some Sugar-Frosted Cruller Chunk White guy telling you.
But the holidays have a way of seriously disrupting work-a-day life patterns regardless of whether you’re honoring the birth of Jesus, slow-burning lamp oil or your African-American heritage. There’s shopping, wrapping, baking or, in my case, shopping, wrapping and making homemade Irish Cream (recipe available upon request) which has been added to nearly every liquid that I’ve ingested for four days now. And then, of course, it’s time to head home for the holidays. Since every patriarchal and matriarchal family member, including my mother and father, have passed (by which I mean they’re dead, not that they’ve passed on hosting the holidays), this year, my wife and I visited her family in Beaver Dam. (Beaver Darn for those of you with delicate sensibilities.)
But whether you’re visiting the home of your youth or that of a loved one, I think the experience is universal. Essentially, it’s like visiting a museum and, for a time, you become part of the exhibit. While the notches on the kitchen doorway that once marked the passage of time by your height are no longer relevant and your feet now hang over the end of the bed, for a moment you’re captured in a Sepia Tone snap shot. Your job, income, growth, accomplishments and status are all put on hold while you revert to the little boy in the flanel football pajamas or the little girl in the nightgown with the ridiculous lace collar. While Life doesn’t take kindly to stasis of any sort, it is the both the charm and claustrophobia of the Holidays.
And they say that Halloween is the holiday of ghosts, but if ghosts are, in fact, the indelible impressions that the departed have left with us, I say they’re never more prevalent than now in the darkest days of December. They sit in chairs and breeze past the oven. They ride on the waves of children’s anticipation and their voices can be heard in the steady hum of a dozen simultaneous conversations. Whatever their form, be it in the tiny spark of memory, a tear of longing or a hearty laugh, they most certainly are. And when the celebration subsides and our personal inertia continues, we feel the space that they had filled, once again vacant yet strangely eternal, like a single candle flame burning in defiance of the vast, infinite darkness. And we pause.
For all of the time spent shopping, wrapping, baking and Irish Cream making, in that single pause, in that fleeting moment, when time has stopped while we take our place in our personal museum exhibit, we can count the angels on the head of the pin…and we’re home.