Reed fell asleep in my arms tonight. It’s the best gift I could have ever asked for.
It’s been a while since he’s fallen asleep as I’ve held him. I know the gaps between these special times will grow and grow until some point they are gone forever. The thought of that is crushing. I guess in some ways that burden of knowledge for parents is the flip side to the blissful innocence we try to guard for our children. Last night, as I turned a toy box inside out and rolled it up in the dark outside by the trash bin (no recycling for this stuff, lest the jolly fat guy gets found out), I felt at once both complicit and dutiful, as though I were perpetuating a lie but at the same time alright about it. We were careful last night to cover our tracks, to deliver on that promise that Santa holds for the young. In a year when I’ve had to explain death to our son, I wasn’t about to have Santa flicker out of his life, too.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve wondered why the season felt ‘off’ for me, as if I or it (or both) was out of place. And I’d heard others say similar things. I don’t think I realized what was wrong until just a moment ago. It’s about hope. News media errantly so often tries to quantify the Christmas season in terms of retail sales, when what it is really trying to gauge is how much hope we have. And while perhaps we manifest that hope in what we’re willing to spend at the store (i.e. here’s how hopeful we are about our economic situation, our relationships and therefore how we give), it can and should come in other outlets.
But with death and the constant background din of the bad economy, layoffs, foreclosures, it’s been hard to shake the feeling of malaise. Indeed, of hopelessness.
After days and days of bleak, grey skies, of my beautiful daughter asking in a worried voice “Where sun go?”, of, frankly, constantly looking down because there just wasn’t anything seemingly to look up for, the clouds parted today–literally and figuratively–and I saw the brightness of the sun, and (perhaps a more religious man than I would say) maybe even the Son.
Isn’t that something we cling to in these cycles we experience? As the earth tilts from the sun and the whole world seems to wither and die, don’t we frail humans need some light to give us hope?
I suppose in many ways, today was the kind of day we should try to have more often. We simply stayed in our jammies all day, played with toys and ate cookies. And it was great. I’d like to wrap today up and stick it in a snow globe, so whenever I needed to, I could simply take it off a shelf and have it all over again.