Though it’s luster and magic is fading, the Christmas tree remains lit in our living room. The Holiday CD’s are still out, but truth be told, I am ready not to hear Jingle Bells for at least a year. The cards we received—a minor miracle in this electronic age—sit nestled in the silver bowl. One more last hurrah tomorrow with New Year’s Eve and then it’s back to business as usual and refreshingly so.
Looking at the cards, I feel both gratitude for their presence and a sense of foreboding that the day will come when the bowl will be empty—or at least sparse. If I make it to old old age, I know that some other friends will not and their annual greetings will come no more. It’s also somewhat astounding that I’ve never yet had a Christmas with just my wife and I— somehow the children, now 33 and 37, still come home or we go to them (in fact, have shared a few Christmas days with them in Chile, Peru and Mexico) and I’ve certainly never yet spent a Christmas Day alone. But that day may come and I already can feel its sadness.
Alas, this is the shadow of the gift of the imagination, not only anticipating the delights of the days to come, but the sorrows as well. Truth be told, I don’t spend much time at all dwelling on future suffering—what’s the point of that? But just looking at the cards in the silver bowl gives me a moment’s pause to think of all those who are lonely, how that must feel magnified at this time of year and how I may someday join them.
But not yet. Gratitude for the warmth of companionship as the year turns to its final day.