By JAMES BROWN
Glasgow Daily Times
... and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
— e.e. Cummings [little tree]
The season spins more rapidly round each year. New Year’s baby grows into Valentine’s toddler, then into Memorial Day adolescent, Fourth of July pre-teen, Labor Day teen, Veterans Day 20-something, Thanksgiving middle-ager, and Christmas elder. These days, they spin by.
Where did children in footy Christmas pjs, pointing in wonder at their first ornament, go? Did they grow? Did they evolve? Caught in a flash of light, they are suspended, etched or embossed in memory; little snowmen, little Christmas trees, little hands, little smiles, little bright eyes.
These are the material things of which holiday dreams are made.
(Reality check: There is a photo of my two children, young, living in a rental home in Forest, Miss., and they are happy. We were a young family, each parent working to provide our children with all that they may want. As is always the case with children, they want everything come Christmas time. We wanted to give it to them and sometimes, in hindsight, we may have given them too much. We, as are so many parents, are often left with the question: Did we give them the right things?)
Two little children were sitting by the fire one cold winter’s night. All at once they heard a timid knock at the door, and one ran to open it.
There, outside in the cold and the darkness, stood a child with no shoes upon his feet and clad in thin, ragged garments. He was shivering with cold, and he asked to come in and warm himself.
“Yes, come,” cried both the children; “you shall have our place by the fire. Come in!”
— Lucy Wheelock, “The Legend of the Christmas Tree”
The text above is the beginning of a very short Christmas story. The child allowed into the door to rest and warm himself by the fire is Christ. Because of the kindness of children, he will allow the fir tree by the door to bare fruit. It is a lesson in kindness to strangers and those who are less fortunate. Also, obviously, it reminds us that appearances are not facts, they are facades.
For me, there is also a fantastic poetic rhythm to this prose text. It’s gentle in nature, much like the nature of the children.
There has been much written about losing a child’s sight of the world. It is the crime of adulthood, supposedly.
Heck, T.S. Elliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is an entire poem, written harshly with beautiful phrasing, about the evils of growing middle-aged and galvanized-minded. (There’s much more to “Prufrock” than that simple description, but let’s follow the K.I.S.S rule here.) There are always plenty of reasons to be found to be bitter about life’s shortcomings, but always try to remember there are those, for no fault of their own, who are having a worse day than we are.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
— Clement Clarke Moore, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”
Rashelle Underwood found a Christmas blessing – the family’s cherished Christmas ornaments. The box of family ornaments were found in the clean up following a fire.
Underwood’s rental home, the one into which she and her three children were moving, was destroyed by fire on Halloween night. They were still shifting things into the home when the fire struck. Friends, family and co-workers have labored to provide a merry Christmas for Rashelle and her three children.
“I’m just happy that the kids are safe and that they got out. I mean to me that was what was important. The other stuff is replaceable,” she said. “Just going through that, it kind of puts more meaning to having your family there with you at Christmas.”
What more could be said. Thank you, Rashelle, for that gentle reminder.
James Brown is editor for the Glasgow Daily Times. He can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @editorjbrown