CHRISTMAS CARDS

It’s the first day of a new year, and like any year, I am astonished that I am getting older. We watched Steven Spielberg’s Hook this evening with our six year old son, and as time passes me by, I remember vividly the little girl inside me. When I was younger I looked just like Maggie in the movie, long hair, five gaps in her teeth, wide eyes and open face. I have hardly changed, really. So it surprises me when I consider my age. 36 this August (!) It all sweeps by so fast. Just as I suspected I am more tired, more jaded, more weatherworn, doing monotonous grown up things, and yet inside of me lives a soul whose essence is so easily touched. Mostly by magic, by childhood films, certain songs, the textures of things, and the way they make me remember.

It was the day before Christmas 2020, and we were all busy writing cards, thinking up meaningful things to write down on paper and hand to each other: keepsakes of love and care. Jules was struggling to think of what to write in a card to his cousin, eleven months younger than he is. My sister-in-law told him, “Jules, I never know what I’m going to write when I start writing a card. You just have to put pen to paper and see where it takes you.”

I realized this is the perfect metaphor for doing anything, and for much of life really. If we think too much about something, it may not even happen at all. You just have to start, and let the momentum carry you. For months we anticipate something in the distant or not too distant future. A holiday. A season. A visit from family. And then the holiday arrives and the season is in full swing and the family comes and it’s so incredibly different from how we imagined. It’s real. It’s now. It’s unfolding in a landscape you are enmeshed in and cannot unmesh yourself from. The trees are buried in snow one morning when you wake up and then we are wading knee deep in the unbelievable white, throwing handfuls of powder and the sun streams through and children are laughing and it doesn’t seem quite real. But it is real. And it’s a fleeting moment. Soon the cold seeps into your boots and your face flushes red with the chill and your body craves something warm to wrap its hands around and shelter. We return inside and that moment that was so real becomes a memory. Another photograph to store in the caverns of my mind, photographs that will become a life lived, a series of stories, a fabric to wrap ourselves in.

He did think of something to write in the end, and we gave our cards on Christmas, watching our loved one’s faces reading something we can’t quite remember having written. Little missives from a moment of heart, put down on paper, and carried on. As life goes by, I treasure these memories the most, and as a writer, the reliving of my best days, again.