Monday, November 12, 2012

A Joyous Mystery

As we were approaching the Christmas holiday again one year, I was tired and resented the interruption. Now I had to grapple for more energy and spend extra hours cleaning the corners of my house, cook, entertain and shop. Why do I do this, I mumbled. What a bothersome task! No, I decided this year I would just send money and be done with it. No cards, no gifts. Just a Christmas Eve dinner, thats all. What a commercial hype of my time. It felt wonderful not to trample from store to store, sweating in my winter coat, staring at lists with glazed eyeballs puzzling over new fangled toys, fashional new colors, vocalists I'd never heard of and videos that used to only suggest. What a relief, I thought to myself. A good decision! I saw other people race around breathlessly, taking time during their lunch and every possible evening and weekend to put together their stash of briberies. When someone would ask me if 'I had my shopping done yet,' I would say, 'I'm not buying anything this year.' And I would chuckle at their astonishment, at my audacity to break away from the tradition. Then I'd catch a raised eyebrow. Well! Days passed, colored lights abounded on houses and in windows. The atmosphere was charged with everyone's expectations of the approaching holidays. Me--I was doing my usual, relaxing and I must admit, feeling somewhat smug. Now Christmas Eve day was here and company due. I had to grocery shop and cook. I had planned a simple dinner with a pie for dessert. I rushed into the store and fought my way among the throngs of harried shoppers and found one of the last empty carts. I was still relaxed and taking my time. But before I knew it, my cart began to fill up. Darn, was it too late? I suddenly had this unexplained need to buy everything in sight. I found a turkey, a ham, buns, cookies, cider, candy, lefsa and the tradional potato sausage. My hands were flying, my short list forgotten. It's late! And it's much to late to do anything more now, I said as I checked my watch. But I had this irresistible need to give. I had to buy some gifts! I calculated the time left before the stores closed, and cussed that I didn't have a list. And I ran! The evening came much too fast. I was tired and the house needed dusting, the cupboards were messy again and the closets overflowed. Darn. Well. I started the oven, opened cans, peeled vegetables and found the good tablecloth and dusted the house with a dishtowel. And soon delicious aromas began to come from the kitchen as the windows steamed up. Grandma came early and complained of stomach gas. Friends and kids in their outfits of leather, in suits and jeans arrived. Short hair and long, carrying guitars and vedeos. As I stood in the middle of this confusion of coats, laughter and hugs, my head was in a whirl. My house was vibrating as I busied myself warming cider and browning buns and I listened to the merriment going on around me. The Christmas carols blared on the stero as I served cinnamon flavored drinks to the kids. Then I saw it. Then I remembered. I realized this is why we rush around, grasping at last bits of energy, overloading our charge accounts, and cleaning the far corners in our homes. I saw the warm, wonderful feeling of real love, amidst the laughter, cnd catching up of times, belonging and acceptance that we all seek and need on this special holiday. Later, my back hurt and legs ached as I put things back in order. But, almost too late, I found it had all been worth it, and the mystery of why we do it was solved, once again. -Lyn Miller Lacoursiere (Written sometime years ago)

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