I remember as a child, for several years I joined a group of other
children from the neighborhood and went from house to house, ten or
twelve of us standing on the sidewalk while one of the parents
went up to the door and rang the bell.
When the door was opened, we cherubs, our
faces aglow from the
dancing flame of the candles held in front of us, would carol our
little hearts out, usually beginning softly with Silent Night or
The First Noel, and gifting our neighbor with two or three more,
ending with something a little more exuberant like Joy to the World.
The image of the old couple on the corner standing in the doorway
listening, his arm around her and her head on his shoulder, wrapped
in a homemade shawl, so happy to share in our celebration, is one of my fondest memories
of childhood. We always
went to their house last,
and finished up with Over the River and Through the Woods; then
they would invite us in and we'd sit around the fireplace
drinking their mulled cider and eating freshly-baked fruitcake.
Before we left, we'd very quietly sing them to sleep with O Holy Night,
then tiptoe out of the house and disperse.
The year that they died, it felt so strange making our last stop at
the house but singing to the young newlyweds that had moved in.
Nothing against them, of course, but that
was the last year that I joined
in Christmas Eve caroling.
The next morning, opening my presents, I
was unable to summon up the "Christmas spirit"; it was the beginning
of my growing cynicism toward the holiday.
As an adult, I've pretty much tried to just let this time of year
pass quietly, though hopefully without putting a damper on the
festiveness of those around me. But last year came what might have been
the last straw.
I had my few close friends over for a quiet, enjoyable evening
before they went their separate ways to be with family. As we lifted
our glasses in a toast to our deep friendship, thankful that we were
all able to be together despite the building storm outside, there was a
loud thump from the back door. I got up to investigate, my
friend Julia trailing behind. I opened the door to find at my feet a
dying bird. It had apparently panicked when the
bough it had been
perched on snapped off the tree, and had flown smack into the window.
Julia screamed and ran back into the house. I carried the bird to
the side of the house and returned to my friends. Julia was calm now,
but the incident pretty much put an end to our party, and we bade each
other good night.
I couldn't help but see the whole incident in a dark light, and the next
day I went out and chopped down that pear tree.
This year, I'm spending Christmas alone with a good book
and my dog. But don't let me get you down. Merry Christmas to you all!
Having this nodeshell presented to me on Christmas Day
as a Random Node, I felt it was incumbent upon me to
rescue it and present it to The Ninjagirls Christmas Special.