Ok. Newsflash. The holiday season is upon us.
I know this because someone dressed me in suspenders, a bow tie and patent leather shoes and stuck me by this Christmas tree.
Now let me take a guess at what you’re doing in any of the spare time you may be lucky to possess.
You are making lists. Lists in your head about gifts to give. Lists on napkins about food to bake. Grocery lists stuck to the side of the refrigerator that you forget to grab on your way out into the blizzard to get to the store. Lists on the back of your hand reminding you to add crazy uncle Bob to your Christmas card list.
I’m right aren’t I? But hopefully you’re not feeling the pressure just yet, as we have a good 24 days until Christmas. Oh, and by the way, thanks for taking the time to stop in, you know, between all of that baking and list making.
So while I have you here with me, I want to give you a little gift.
Close your eyes.
Put your head on your desk, or in your hands, or on the shoulder of your sweetie sitting next to you…
…and think about the season. Go ahead. I give you permission. Think about it the way you want to think about it. Love it. Loathe it. Tolerate it.
Now picture yourself when you were 5 or 6 or 7.
Shut up, neon was in. And so were earmuffs.
In the middle of December.
Picture your snowsuit. Think about the thrill of Santa’s impending visit, the pride you felt wrapping up that macaroni pencil holder for your gramma, the excitement of the first snow fall, the taste of your momma’s fresh cookies and your pops’ caramel corn. The quiet thankfulness you had for Jesus as you decorated the Christmas tree in preparation for his birthday.
Think of yourself, adorable I’m sure with hair wildly flinging out from your favorite beanie, breath heavy as you drug your neon sled, or wood sled, or cardboard box up to the top of the nearest hill and flung yourself down for the first time.
Remember how you couldn’t even feel your frozen cheeks as you closed your eyes tight against the wind whizzing by. You didn’t care about the weather or the windchill or the travel warnings or the buns you left in the oven. Because you didn’t leave buns in the oven. Because you were five or six or seven and no one let you use the oven.
Maybe your little sister was sitting behind you in the sled. Maybe your big brother was giving you a huge push. Remember the sound you used to make when you were thrilled? Remember how hard you laughed as you came to a crashing halt at the bottom–snow in your boots, snow in your hair, snow down your pants.
Yup, earmuffs, so fashionable, versatile anyone can pull off the look.
But you jumped up, brushed yourself off and just as soon as you yelled, “let’s do it again!’ your mom and dad came out from the house to call you for dinner and to your surprise, instead of making you come inside, they decided to take a run at the hill themselves.
So they climbed to the top with you, huffing and puffing into thier wool scarves, your dad holding your mother’s hand partly out of affection, but mostly to tug her along.
And just like that they were no longer adults. Just like that they were no longer parents who made you eat your vegetables, stop hitting your sister and clean your room. They were kings and queens of the mountain just like you. Their cheeks were rosy, their eyelashes coated in frost, their hearts pounding in anticipation as your mom wrapped her arms around your father’s waist and squealed– a sound so familiar somehow, although you swore you never heard it from her lips–as he launched the both of them, scarves trailing behind, like white lightning down the mountain.
And you held your breath and hoped your eyes did not deceive you. You clasped your hands together and bent your knees as they approached the little jump you and your brother had constructed. You closed your eyes as they caught air and seperated from the ground…and then from the sled…
You remained silent as they landed, with a puff, in a pile of legs and down and snot and wool and mittens, at the bottom.
You remained silent knowing surely that this accident, this launch, would transform them back into the people you knew only moments before. That a trip home right this instant was inevitable. Oh, the fun was surely over now.
And just as you were about to release your knees, slowly from their bent position, you launched into that jump after all as you heard, echoing off of the buttes and through the trees, laughter.
Laughter like you’ve never heard come out of these people you called parents before.
And you laughed too as you watched them lay there in a pile, their bellies rising and falling underneath the layers of coats and sweaters as they took in the next big breath only to release it again and again as huge chuckles, squeals, gasps. Pure joy.
So as soon as gravity returned you to earth your boots carried you, arms flailing, down the hill and to a sliding halt right into the middle of these new found friends. Then your brother or sister plopped right on the top and another wave of hilarity ensued.
And you were all there. You were all a part of it. A great big pile of happy and love and family.
A great big pile of friends.
Are you smiling?
Now the only thing I ask in return is this: if you forget anything this season–the cookie salad, your third cousin’s new last name, what your youngest daughter wants for Christmas, or uncle Bob at the airport–please, please do not forget yourself…
… at 5 or 6 or 7…
…and then be her again…
Music on video by http://www.danosongs.com