Oh yeah, they came.
Two of ’em.
The family arrived this year with some traditional Christmas stuff (holiday jammies), and some I never imagined them bringing (proofs of negative covid tests on their phones).
We know how lucky we are to be able to be together in a way that doesn’t worry us, or other folks who want to be with or around us in our day-to-days this year (and even those who don’t want to, but are forced to anyway (I’m not sure who you are, but I’m really sorry)).
This year, as Christmas began to make good on its annual and ancient promise to show up, I wondered how I would feel. Along with so many of us, my emotions have been as unmoored as my sense of reality at various times during 2020. From worldwide to nationwide to community-wide seismic unsettlings, to changes and losses and grief up close and personal. Boy oh boy.
Mercifully, two incredibly powerful and empathetic words are never too far from my awareness, and are kind enough to tap me on the shoulder should I endeavor to move out of their reach.
And yet there is so much beauty in the world, from the warm body of my dog snoring beside me, to the smiling eyes of a stranger, wearing a mask, who let me go ahead of him in line because he was in less of a hurry than I was the other day… to the winds and seas and stars in the sky… and the seal who visits our cove infrequently enough that I am positively (and audibly) delighted every time I am lucky enough to spy him there.
And yet, despite what social and traditional media bark at me, I have personal witnessed folks with completely different opinions continue to be friends (yep, even best friends). I’ve also watched people continuing to befriend others, having no idea what their socio-political beliefs are, caring far more about traits like kindness, honesty… generalities of good human-ness.
And yet not only do countless numbers of us send up prayers for those impacted by the toughest of stuff, untold numbers step forward with big and small answers to those prayers… shoulders to cry on, outstretched hands to lift up, faith and hope and love to share.
The ‘and yets’ are infinite.
They are compelling.
They are our own personal checks and balances and counterbalances.
When things feel dim… they bring the light.
This year, the ‘and yets’ were the power behind my sending the troops – the Nearly Perfect Husband and 3.5 ‘children’ – to the barn on the day after Thanksgiving, for Decorating Day.
Not for a toned down version of our annual tradition, knowing the house would not be filled with friends and family in the numbers enjoyed and entertained and celebrated over the days and weeks of Christmas seasons past.
The troops brought every single tub in, as ordered.
And every single twinkle-light strand, and impish elf, and snow-flecked garland, and shiny bauble, and beaded bead were lifted out and placed, with care and expected magic, around our nearly two hundred year old former inn.
Every electric window candle was placed on its sill.
The dock tree was tied in place (to frustrate the frisky northeast wind when – not if – it tries to blow the little tree down), and wrapped in those big ol’ C9 bulbs so it can be seen by anyone who crosses the old swing bridge onto, or off of, the island.
Then, one week later, two children came to stay.
And they joined the ‘and yets’. As in…
We will not see or hug or love in person as many people as we usually do this holiday season, and yet, this past weekend, two kids wrapped in Christmas excitement and magic came to visit. And, together with their parents (one of which is a Practice Kid (hence the Practice Grandkids)), we all visited the botanical gardens for their incredible light display (this year it was re-imagined as a drive-through experience, which allowed us to cram ourselves into one car with our cocoa and a rockin’ Christmas playlist as we oo’d and ah’d our way through the show. We also baked treats (ate every last one), created art, made forts out of blankets (and one mattress), and the kids engaged in their traditional ‘chore’ of snowing on the miniature Santa’s village.
I won’t confirm the rumor that a binging of the Jurassic Park franchise may have taken place to impress a certain dino-obsessed four year old.
Christmastime is as inevitable as it is magical and, of course, it needs not a single decoration to welcome it upon its arrival. But if traditions – from Decorating Day to cheap-yet-glorious chocolate covered cherries – help us feel all the feels of the season, I’m all for ’em.
May the ‘and yets’ find you this holiday season, especially if it cannot be exactly as wished or dreamed for.
May they lift you…
Feed your heart and soul (and, of course, your belly)…
And fuel your hope and faith…
In all the days and years to come.
Thanks for readin’. BUT WAIT, THERE’S A CHRISTMAS INN TOUR!
For fun, I’m including this link to First Born Mac’s YouTube channel, where she did a tour of The Inn after I finished decorating for Christmas this year. I hope you love it. Ho ho ho!
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