I’m doing my best to maintain a sense of holiday cheer. It helped to chat with Miranda and Xander earlier today, one of those transatlantic video visits that still don’t seem quite possible to me. In the midst of it, Xander’s cell phone rang. It was his mother.
“Oh, is that Jill on the phone?” I asked, excitedly.
Miranda turned to Xander. “This won’t end well,” she said.
“Can’t we just say hello?” I asked.
Xander dutifully held up the phone, as you can see above. I could hear Jill…well, sort of..let’s say I could hear some indistinct but enthusiastic sounds, the origin of which was Jill.
“She’s wishing you a happy Christmas,” Xander translated. “She said she posted a package and hopes you’ve received it.”
“Oh, dear. I haven’t sent out anything this year,” I said. “I feel bad.”
“It’s okay,” said Miranda. “It wasn’t meant to induce guilt.”
“But then again,” I added, “she has the two of you right there.”
“Speaking of guilt,” murmured Miranda.
Xander ended the call and changed the subject with a joke or two. He’s fond of new definitions for old words and had recently heard some seasonal ones. Goblet? A small turkey. Tinsel? Gretel’s more flamboyant brother.
We’ll talk again on Christmas. Maybe we’ll even have Xander’s grandfather on board.
Last night we had our little annual party with a few of the neighbors. Ryan and Carey brought over a big cardboard box containing an artificial tree that Ryan quickly assembled and plugged in. It had tiny white lights and realistic-looking dewdrops on every branch. It didn’t smell like an evergreen forest on a winter morning, but it was really quite satisfactory.
The table, meanwhile, was laden with potluck offerings and battery-powered candles, and we had our silly gift exchange, and I thought about all the changes the years have brought and how nice it is to have this chance to pause and touch base. Outside it was raining, but there was warmth and laughter within. People stayed until after ten, a late night by our standards.
Today the rain continues, gently and intermittently, more a mood than weather. The roads are muddy and the grass is as green as I have ever seen it. A few days ago I walked with Cele to the sandstone pools, which were actually filled with water. We drank tea and observed the shimmer of sea and sky in the distance and the white band of light at the horizon, and the hills stretched out before us like our own emerald kingdom.
Donna called. Cards have arrived from people I knew in ancient times. We have persimmons and fresh bread, and rain-washed lemons ready to be plucked. The heater works and the generator is humming.
My friend Kelley told me she has been looking after the red poinsettias at the Presbyterian Church, watering them in the quiet as sunlight slants through stained glass windows.
There is the possibility of finding what you have to be enough, of staying put and tending to things, frugal with everything but love.