As I sit here on my couch, glass of wine in hand, this is my view:
It’s one of the things I love about this time of year – sitting, late at night, the Christmas tree lit up, and just relaxing. Getting lost in thought. It takes me back to when I was a kid, and the appearance of the tree was a magical thing. It meant that magical things were afoot – presents, jolly bearded men traversing the world in a night, visits from family and friends filled with amazing food and laughing and love. Now, years later, it also reminds me of just how important the here-and-now is.
I sit here, a dog curled up on my feet. Normally they’re not allowed on the couch, but tonight I’ll make an exception. I can hear the late-night sounds of the house; the clock ticking in the kitchen, the tiny barely audible pings of the baseboard heaters as they expand and contract with the heat, down the hall one of the kids just mumbled something in their sleep, the fridge just clicked and hummed. And the Christmas tree glows quietly, reminding me of the magic in the world.
So much to be grateful for. A healthy, wonderful family. A job that challenges me, that I love. Evenings like this one, where I get to spend time with a good friend, having good conversation, and watching a play where other friends do good work.
This year is different, too. One of those parenting milestones has been reached, and a discovery that eventually comes to all of us has come to the youngest in our house. So, my son is growing up, and the magic has a different feel to it this year. Not a bad feeling, just different.
So, the Christmas tree and I contemplate each other, as we do each year.
“So,” the tree says to me, “Another Christmas.”
“It’s different this year”, I say.
“Is different bad?”
“No. It just…I don’t know. I guess it feels like something is missing.”
It’s quiet in the room. The clock ticks for nearly a full minute.
“Do you think…”, the tree asks thoughtfully, “that years from now, he’ll sit in front of me as you do, and be able to look back with love and contentment and gratitude, as you do?”
“I think so.”
“Then nothing is missing” says the tree, ”AND you’ve found something else to be grateful for.”