25 December 2008

On Christmas day in the morning

We were up too early on this Christmas morning; our visit to Pawleys and my parents was too short. But, with us expecting Tal's daughter to arrive mid-day at our place in Edgefield County, Mom and Dad were ultra-accommodating, breakfast served and over in the vicinity of 7:00 with us on our way by 7:15. Our two full days with them were simply extraordinary -- laid back, comfortable, unrushed. They fall in the category of blessing, without doubt.

Last time we visited them, that being Thanksgiving, I managed to leave the Manfrotto tripod behind. With the tripod safely stowed in the trunk and with us almost to the Founders Club our cell phone rang. I'd forgotten to pick up my slippers and gloves from the porch. Isn't there some adage about wanting to return when one leaves something behind? Anyway, there's a twist this time. When I unpacked earlier this evening, I discovered the drinking glass and a hand towel from the guestroom bath in my tote bag. I'd stripped the bed and cleaned the bathroom in anticipation of my sister using the guest room over New Years. With several things to carry down the stairs I dropped those two things in the bag and then, with breakfast ready, forgot to leave them in the kitchen and laundry room respectively. So, Mom and I are holding those belongings of the other hostage.

Our drive home was uneventful and rather pretty. The sun came up as we were crossing the Waccamaw River at Georgetown, a huge radiant orb in the car's mirrors. And, that light shown on the nearly purple clouds filling the western horizon. By the end of our four-hour drive the sunlight had disappeared and the grey had given way to periods of rain. Somehow what I felt through it all was a nearly overwhelming sense of sweetness, the Christmas lights touching, the open convenience stores beacons alongside the road, winter's landscape spread out all around us.

As the miles accumulated, I thought about all the Christmases I -- and more recently, Tal and I -- have been mobile. Over the years since my priesting we have been present in whichever congregation I was serving at least through the Christmas Eve services. While we lived in Wilmington and Philadelphia, I was expected to work though the holiday, but that amounted to six years at the most. And, one year since moving to this part of South Carolina, when three funerals required my ongoing presence, we stayed home. Those occasions aside, Christmas for my whole adult life has been "gypsy" in nature. I have come to associate the drive to the South Carolina coast with Christmas. It's as integral to the holiday as are the Christmas cards, my favorite of all the holiday traditions.

The day is nearly over. We made it home before 11:00. Susan arrived shortly before 2:00. Dinner was at 4:00. I finished in the kitchen shortly before 8:00. Sitting here with everyone, humans and pups, in the house sleeping with the tree still lit, contentment is my pleasure.

I hate to let the day go.

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