maybe next year we won’t go insane
when they rush to hang the bows and candy canes
because peace will shine in me and you
from Bethlehem to Timbuktu
even if the forecast
is for rain
— the prophet Mary Chapin Carpenter
We should go run, Mo said. We have a streak.
I thought about it. I worked a weird shift today because of early Christmas Eve deadlines (editing before noon? heresy), but there was still time. And then we looked at the pie, and that was that.
And now it’s late, that time of night just before Christmas arrives. I’m still up, hoping Santa doesn’t walk in on me. Mo and BK are curled up together sleeping. The living room is dark except for the lights on the Mardi Gras tree. It’s just me and Mary Chapin and some old wine that may or may not be OK. Hard to tell when you’re drinking.
It’s been an odd year. Our first back in the land of the saguaro, away from the friends we accidentally stumbled upon in the land of pelicans and crazy homeless guys. We still look in amazement at the sunsets and the mountains beckoning in the distance, while missing the sound of breaking surf and Jimmy’s soundtrack on the third floor. We’re still not sure where home is. But here we are.
I think back to my childhood. Christmas was always a magical time. We’d go to see Dad’s parents on the farm, and then drive down the little dirt road to see Ma’s folks in Vancourt. We’d crawl up on the little space behind the back seat and stare at the sky to spot Rudolph’s nose.
We didn’t have a lot of money, but that was OK. My favorite present always came from Dad’s mom, who would give me a Folger’s can full of shelled pecans from the trees in her front yard. I would stay up most of the night eating them. This probably explains the lack of moderation in today’s pie. Ma’s parents got me a Sears guitar when I was in the sixth grade. They had no idea it would change my life. Christmas is like that.
We’re scattered now, the Smith Boys. Ma’s been gone a while, although I miss her every day. Ma loved Christmas. Dad took off last year, so now it’s just the brothers. We’re a long way apart, and we’re not quite as spry as we once were. But we’ll be there soon, so I’m OK being here. As I get older and wiser, I realize Christmas is a state of mind, even if sometimes it’s a couple states away.
Mo worried tonight that we are becoming those old people we always thought we’d never be. Maybe she’s right. But I love being us.
Tomorrow, we’ll start a new run streak. We’ll go to the park and mosey along while dodging the frenzied kids trying out their new bikes and scooters. We’ll pull out the Rudolph costume and terrorize some children. We’ll bring our neighbor over to celebrate her 88th Christmas on the planet, and we’ll eat the rest of that pie. If it makes it out unscathed tonight. No promises.
We’ll say hey to our friends and family in Texas and Seattle and those scattered across the country, and our weirdo internet pals who somehow became our dysfunctional family. Christmas is a good time to remember how lucky you are.
We have a streak, Mo said. And she’s right. Nineteen Christmases together. That’s the kind of streak you hope won’t end for a long, long time.
Merry Christmas. May peace shine in me and you, from Bethlehem to Timbuktu.
Even if the forecast is for rain …