Another Christmas has passed, and its unique events have been recorded in memory.
There is the trip to the Christmas tree farm, bouncing over the corrugated dirt road that leads up to the big barn-like structure built of rough-hewn pine, and then piling into a trailer with hay seats and being hauled out to the pasture behind an old tractor, followed by the usual search for the perfect tree ("There it is. Oh but it's bare on one side. No wait. Over there. Nope, too tall"). Then we all take turns trying to separate it from the Earth with an old saw, followed promptly by the usual tinge of sadness when we see it lying prone on the ground.
The author and his two daughters at the tree farm
All trimmed out
That evening, all the ornaments are pulled out of boxes marked "Christmas" (and their memories are pulled out of synapses also marked "Christmas"),
and each is placed on the tree, often just resting on the branches. They fall off later when the tree sags, as do the memories when the serotonin dries out.
All the Christmas tapes and CDs are produced and played, their magnetic and optical memories faithfully reproducing the pianos of Peter Cater, David Lanz, and George Winson, and the lovely melodies of all the Winter Solstice albums. We play them infrequently at first, and then more and more often as the big day approaches, and then infrequently again when it is all over, quietly in the morning on the days between Christmas and New Year's while the decorations brighten the living room, and later still when the room is strangely empty after the fireplace socks and Santa Clauses and colorful figures have been returned to the boxes marked "Christmas" and the tree is lying prone again, outside the patio door.
Other events that have become family traditions take place. We shake the outdoor lights out of their entanglement and gingerly place them on the branches of our tall junipers and pines so as to ensure easy removal, but the wind comes along later and welds all of them to the branches, prompting subsequent vows that we won't do it again next year (we do). The neighborhood becomes a wonderland at night, with colors and motion.
There is the family trip to the Christmas Eve service in clothes that really aren't suited for the cold. And then the morning arrives and the tree gives up its hoard of presents; wrapping paper and boxes fly and the treasures are revealed. The camera is aimed from time to time and snapshots of the unwrapping are dissolved into film pigments, and other snippets of the morning are stuffed into synapses marked "Christmas" (though not with the same clarity as the film).
And sometimes during all these activities we remember that unspoken question - just like there is about the rest of our lives - "Is there another meaning?" We celebrate the season in simple earthly ways, our homes transformed into bright hues and ourselves transformed into softer hues, and wish that the rest of the planet could be the same. And back of it all we ask the Timeless One:
Years ago, Spirit, did You visit us? How did You experience this life of ours? How did You understand time, so foreign a concept for a Timeless Being? How was Your life, knowing as You did the time and manner of Your death, knowing that You had come to interpret the Tree?
And how did you find this planet of ours, with its bright green gardens and sensuous waters? And how did you find our propensity toward violence toward one another? But of course You would understand this, being perfect love. You love us despite ourselves.
Perhaps You find it harder to understand why we cannot love each other.
Was the force of the life more than even You could anticipate? (But You know this too, even as You create the life.)
Was it You that became incarnate, or was it the rest of us that became Spiritual?
Copyright © 2015 J.A.