The day after Thanksgiving, every year, is Decorating Day in the Dingle house. On that day, the boxes come down from the barn and magically appear, stacked on the brick floor of our entry room.
From there, Christmas is sprinkled, hung, tied, fluffed, and gently placed throughout The Inn. After that, and for a little more than a month, we exist alongside the warmth and magic of reds and greens, silvers and golds, twinkling lights and the smells of evergreens and sugar cookies.
There are crazy days and silent nights, meals both homemade and take-out, and hours spent with friends and family, along with time for quiet reflection.
And then, somehow and seemingly all of a sudden…
It’s time to go.
To leave this magical time and place, of our own making, and return to the real world. As you can see, in the photo above, even Blaze is a little blurry about it.
We may never have, in any literal way, actually left the real world.
But there is just something about it, isn’t there?
Little kids’ excitement and all-in belief in the magic of the season…
Twinkle lights on the houses of people I know… or don’t…
That angel whispers that envelops me when I walk into a room and rediscover the Christmas tree that wasn’t there just days before (yep, even if I was the one who set it up, and strung the lights, and placed each ornament with care, I still feel it when I walk into the room)…
Big, old C9 ceramic bulbs (I put them on my dock tree now, so I can see them from the bridge as I drive onto the island)…
Adult kids coming home, spending time together… laughing at shared memories and new stories (and, sometimes, me)…
Time and smiles with friends (bonus points if we end up laughing so hard we can’t catch our breath)…
All of the things.
The hunt for, and creation of, gifts for our special humans (and pets), the writing of notes on Christmas cards, the gazing at the lights and stars and wishing those we miss like crazy were still here, the making of new memories to add to all the rest… all of these things take place in this amazing 3-D theatrical set comprised of colors and sounds and spirit and magic that encourages just a little more softness, a dash of extra kindness, and a little more child-like wonder from somewhere deep within us.
It’s the ultimate group project. Doesn’t even matter that Robbie Sullivan* doesn’t do any of the work he signed up for, and he gets the same grade anyway. Because participation is fun, and sharing is the point.
Not all of us feel that softness, acknowledge the kindness, or are gifted with that sense of childlike wonder. And, no, not all of us share it forward. I mean, ‘all’ is a tough sell with the world closing in on 8 billion humans.
But… what if just ‘some of us’ felt it all, and paid these gifts forward?
What about just ‘one of us’… could that be enough?
Having lived through a couple of years of a worldwide pandemic, I know far more about epidemiology than I ever thought I would (or wanted to). My inner amateur virologist has begun to wonder about a few things (along with the many other things). For instance…
What’s the R0 for Christmas kindness? How fast could it spread?
Also, what is the possibility of a year-round variant?
Something that the human race needs… that we can infect each other with, any time we want. Totally in our control.
I thought about this, as I unwound the twinkle lights, packed away wreaths and garlands, and carefully placed stuffed bears and charming elves in comfortable positions, knowing they’d be spending the next eleven months awaiting their next opening night. And I decided.
I’m all in.
All in on the idea of aerosolizing these notions of softness, kindness, and childlike wonder (especially curiosity over certainty, when it comes to my fellow humans (and our ideas)).
If you see me, you can comfortably remove the mask from your heart.
I’ll take mine off too.
Happy New Year
Thanks for readin’.
*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
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Just for fun…
JoHn’s photo bombs are oddly… dependable. :))