Updated: Mar 29
My two older brothers and I slept in the attic of my grandparents’ home amid boxes of ornaments, bubble lights, Christmas tree, and wrapping paper. The boxes called to me one particular Sunday when my mother told us that she’d have to work a double shift. Christmas meant as little to her that year as her appearance. Both grandparents gone, the extended family fractured into their own homes, making their own traditions.
While my brothers entertained themselves in front of the black and white television, I lugged boxes down two flights of stairs in the grand old home. We’d lived there since Grandma had a stroke when I was five years old. Now, at nine, I’d become resourceful.
The tree went together with ease. Strands of lights wound around the thin branches and ornaments reached as high as the tip of my fingers’ end before I stepped onto the landing of the stairwell to place the star. All the while, Hercules rode a chariot and fought other gladiators in some foreign coliseum on the screen in the living room. I paid it no mind. My only goal was to see the lights once more through the beveled glass of my Grandparents’ home.
I found two shopping bags that my mother had carried home on the bus. Hand-me-downs from a coworker who had children the same ages as us. I pulled a white button-down Oxford out, not something either of my brothers would wear, too thin in the waist, but I determined that it might fit my oldest brother. I imagined him donning it to go to a freshman dance at his high school. I folded it into a gently used, shirt box, wrapped it in leftover poinsettia paper, and taped it so an army couldn’t unwrap it. Each piece of clothing received the same treatment: from bag to box to under the tree.
There just had to be gifts under the tree to create the perfect scene.
Christmas, 2021, is an opportunity to remember that perfect Christmas scenes aren’t as necessary as celebrating togetherness with family and friends. Looking at pictures from pre-pandemic times, I believe we try this year to capture some sense of normalcy.
On this Winter Solstice, please remember that your best is a good enough gift to those you love. This family photo is on our Christmas card this year, and belies the fact that perfection isn't always the thing that bring joy and laughter.
I am in deep gratitude for your willingness to engage with me through this year fraught with so many curves in our paths. May you and yours know the magic of the darkness and be able to look to the light of the new year with renewed hope.
As a coach, facilitator, educator, and friend - Merry Christmas.