If you had just been there, you would know what I mean. The feeling of that day and why it was so special, why I was trying to hold onto the moment. We spent a year living with my mom in Germany but had to leave for a few months over the winter. We bought a used German car and drove to the UK, spent Christmas in a farmhouse I rented in the country outside of Cork. No internet. A sunroom where we sat around a small tree the owners put up for us and decorated. It was cold with thin windows, but they had a portable heater that hummed and glowed orange. And sometimes the light in the sky is the same as it was then, the look of it below the clouds when it clears in the distance and turns the color of abalone shell, turquoise and blue, some pink.
I imagined I could relive the time in that little Irish town standing on the street outside the shops. A feeling of calm, of being very far away but feeling very grounded too, very much in the right place. I bought a wool Irish cap and wrote the name of the town on the inseam, but it disappeared after we returned to Germany. So I bought another wool cap in a small town in Pennsylvania called Jim Thorpe. And had a similar memory of standing on the street in the winter when it was cold, and the sun came out to warm a patch on the street so small it seemed like it was just for me. And the memories combined down into one and mixed over time.
The sky today looks the same as it did in Skibbereen that day before Christmas, dark in the foreground but with a thin band of light at the bottom. How it’s symbolic this time of year, that there’s hope in a small ribbon of light however dark the rest of the day.
I regifted Charlotte a family heirloom and wrote her an origin story about it. I took Lily to a screening of a Nirvana concert filmed at the same theater where they played thirty years ago. I got Dawn a rock with money my mom gave me. And prepared firewood for the next few days as we’re expecting snow. I gathered fallen pine branches from the yard and placed them around the sensitive plants which felt wholesome. I am doing my best to honor the past without overlooking the present.
And now as if to mimic the falling down quality of my mom’s medieval house in Germany we have a bunch of crap jammed in the makeshift pantry area in our garage. Brussels sprouts and dates, radishes for the salad, oranges and nuts, blue cheese and chocolates.
We recreate the homes from our youth and our memories there, and Christmas is the time many of us do that the most. Let me reach out to you now wherever you are for a hug and a smile…and for the next time we see the light.