2007 has been a lovely year - so much happier than 2006. As I sit typing, flanked by Lily on my left and Baxter on my right, I feel pretty content. The past week or so has been hectic, but only because life is filled with more friends (of both the furry and non-furry variety!), a more challenging job and a holiday to enjoy the fruits of both and more festivities to come. Today is a day of rest. Today life is good. Today I have time to share some odds and ends from the past few days.
Christmas Eve did not go at all as planned. Originally, the plan was to go to Bridgeport for the candlelight service. Despite my conflicted feelings about churches in general, this service remains my favorite of the year, because of the moment where the lights go down and we all light our candles to sing Dona Nobis Pacem (which reminds me that the Lumiere String Quartet's version is lovely, peaceful and well worth the .99 cent download from iTunes). In that moment, despite all of the things that are wrong with the world, I always feel that maybe there really is hope that one day it will be set aright.
But this year, it just wasn't in the cards. The early stages of dinner preparation were interrupted when my mom spotted a homeless man wandering the street with a shopping cart, searching for cans. It didn't take long for us to decide to give him the mountain of them we've been saving to take back to the store, so I went out to call him back. When he saw the little recycling bin we had, he was happy. When he saw that I had a whole trash can full to give him, he almost cried. He kept thanking me for giving him his Christmas present and blowing me kisses.
Honestly, it made me feel completely inadequate and somehow ashamed that I couldn't do more for him. He actually hugged me. To be worshipped for a few tin cans when I have a regular, warm place to sleep and he doesn't was embarassing. We talked for a while and I learned that he did (at least for now) have someplace to sleep. He has a sister in the area and she is letting him stay with her. Judging by her location, I don't think she had much either, but it made me feel better that he had somewhere to go. He left smiling, happy and blowing me kisses.
Dinner was late, but whatever - the traditional holiday nachos and creme de menthe cupcakes could wait. I know it sounds crazy, huh? If there's one time when it seems l ike you should do something special, it seems like holidays should be it. And we were planning to have an extravagent Christmas Eve dinner, but decided at the grocery store that our Christmas gift to ourselves would be not having to cook. (Besides, the cupcakes were already made, and they were DELICIOUS.) So, we dined on a buffet of organic corn chips blanketed in black beans, shredded beef, tomato, cheese, and avocado. But I am not ashamed. It tasted so good that I'm sure Mary and Joseph would have dined thusly, had there only been a microwave in the stable.
Then, just as we were about to leave, an elderly friend of my mom's called, so we didn't make it out the door on time. But, you know what? Even if I didn't get to sing by candlelight, I got my "Dona Nobis Pacem" just by being able to do a kindness for someone else and being able to enjoy a relaxed dinner with my family (aka my mom), whom I kinda love, even if she did renege on her promise to make up for making us late by being such a long-winded yappy yapperson on the phone by singing with me later.
We actually had SNOW on Christmas day! If anyone had told me it was coming, I would have laughed. It seemed way too warm, but for a few lovely moments while I was wrapping presents, I could hear the beginnings of Vivaldi's Winter falling from the sky. I always hear the Four Seasons in my head when it starts to snow. This may be an omen that I need to learn to play it (and find an incredibly forgiving and non-mocking orchestra to accompany me!).
Presents wrapped, we headed a couple of miles East to spend Christmas with our friends, Jenny and Jesus and their family. That's right people. I had Christmas dinner with Jesus. The thing I LOVE about their gatherings is that they are so huge. I come from a small family unit, so when she tells me "oh, it's not many people - just family" it cracks me all the way up. "Just family" for her is upwards of 30 people. It was really crowded in her aunt's small home, but it was also a blast. We had ham, turkey with mole (so good!), and a ton of other foods. There was singing, playing with the kids (so many kids - you couldn't spit without hitting a baby - not that I would. I come down as firmly against spitting at babies!), conversation, and a LOT of noise (albeit unequivocally joyful).
All in all a great evening and a great Christmas! I hope yours was that way too! Even if I do have some misgivings about religion, one thing I do know is that the point of all of this life stuff is those moments of goodness, kindness and joy.