I'm up at 5 AM doing dishes and washing clothes. What the hell is wrong with me? Here in the kitchen while everyone else is in a cozy slumber, it's still very dark outside. Thank God the coffee's good in this joint.
All around me is the detritus of a winter life: a pile-up of pots and pans from last night's cookie-making; ski gear. Why does it seem like someone is always going skiing? Christmas wrapping; a big box that has to be sent to California yesterday, Jesus those kids out there are Jewish and their time of celebration has already begun! We've got all the crafty things on the table: candles we made and jars we painted gold. We've got the gigantic bowl of fruit because no one gets enough vitamins this time of year.
And....drumroll...the tree. This is my 49th year here on this lovely planet, and I love the Christmas tree as much today as I did yesterday and every single day of every single Christmas season that came before this one. The tree makes me swoon: the smell, the lights, the evergreen-ness of it in the midst of the season of dormancy and death. I love driving past the Christmas tree sellers, too. I love the lights they string from the ropes that hold the trees. There's a particularly great one out in Stowe. The guy sets it up every year right at the base of the Moscow Road, complete with his little trailer and a big plastic Santa. Ho ho ho!
I was trolling through all the photos on my phone last night when I came across a screenshot of this quote: "Richard Rolle, 14th century mystic wrote: 'I have found that to love Christ above all things will involve three things: warmth, song and sweetness.'"
Christmas, too: warmth, song and sweetness.
I'll tell you where you can find some of that this season, if you're hanging in, out or around the Burlington area: here, with these two musical clowns. The other evening the kids and I broke away from our usual Monday night chills and thrills (football! dog-petting! term-paper-writing!)and went to the Barrio for some supper and Christmas music and it was one of the most enchanting evenings of the season thus far. It's cozy and warm and neighborhoody there and Brett and Kat are funny and generous with their talent. They sing old favorites and newer homespun holiday tunes of heartbreak and gratitude and joy. I mean, really, what is this crazy beautiful season if not marinated in a vat of joy, covered in sugar crystals and taken out to build a snowman? It's all of it. Go hear them next Monday; sit in that sweet little space, marvel at the wreaths and the fogged-up windows and the warm light and the company and the songs. It will light a little fire of contentment in your heart. It will make you feel exactly how you should feel in these sacred, sublime December days.
When we left the Barrio on Monday night and piled into the car, which was parked on the street in the Old North End, Sam noticed that there was a homeless person standing in a doorway not far from us. Sam is nineteen and broke all the time. Sam cares about things like clothes and cars and ski equipment. Sometimes it feels that Sam, like every other teenager on the planet, can't see much past the end of the nose on his face. But Monday night, when he spied the person huddling and draped in what looked like a hundred layers of coats, I thought he was going to weep. It tore him apart. He offered up the money he had in his pocket to give to her, which we did, with a hug and a hope that she would buy a warm meal. Then we drove off, looking at the lights people have strung from their porches and trees, in quiet awe of all the things we had: a meal, a car, a warm place to rest our heads at the end of the day. Each other.