In this moment there is infinite potential. Victoria Moran
In the tender beginnings of a new year, a new decade, it is a Christmas story that I want to share with you, that I want to carry forward and allow to blossom inside me as I make the leap into 2020.
In early December, I set an intention to stay present, to savor the moments, to take care of myself, to not get swept up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. And I did savor the moments. I could list for you thousands of precious details from this past month. But alas, the moments, they came fast and furious and the holiday-wave gained momentum and I found myself surrendering to the last minute rush just trying with my best effort to body surf to a shore where everything was ready for the family celebration on Christmas Eve. The tree, our most perfect balsam ever, was decorated with the ornaments collected over forty-two years of marriage, the presents were wrapped, our fridge filled to the brim with holiday treats, our cupboards laden with foods the grandkids would adore, the toys set out exactly the way the grandkids expect. We, my husband and I, albeit exhausted, were eager for our son, daughter-in-law and their two kids to arrive.
And that’s when the meltdown occurred. Not our inner meltdown. We were holding it together pretty well. Nature’s meltdown. The temperature in our northern world began to rise into the upper thirties and our momentous snowbanks began to rise too into a thick layer of misty fog, and our son, daughter-in-law and grandkids, on Christmas Eve, were trying their hardest to fly into this northern world that was melting rapidly. In the early evening, after a long flight from the west coast, they sat on a plane in Minneapolis for more than an hour before being hustled back into the airport, re-booked for a flight the same time the next day. And twenty-four hours later, on Christmas night, with the fog perhaps a little less murky, the plane set off on its route to Iron Mountain and I set off, too, on the hour and fifteen minute drive to pick them up, only to learn as I approached the airport that they had been diverted at the very last minute and were enroute to Detroit, an eight hour drive south of our home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. And the saga continued. All flights were filled for the next day, and no cars were available for a one-way rental. Our Christmas celebration was in a fog-induced holding pattern.
Along with the disappointment of a Christmas with our family postponed, there were the gifts for my husband and I. Any last minute preparations that we had forgotten were now in tip top shape; the walk along the shores of Lake Superior in the fog on Christmas afternoon was sublime; my drive to Iron Mountain on Christmas night was haunting and misty-wonderful as I listened to holiday music and remembered sleigh bells and my aunt and uncle’s ponies and the sleigh ride we once took wrapped in blankets on quiet country paths in foggy coastal Maine. But, it’s not the two of us that I want to tell you about. It’s the family stuck in airports and motels for three nights and four days that is the focus of my story. My son and daughter-in-law were stellar. They kept it together, day after holiday day, disappointment after disappointment, diversion after diversion. They found motels with swimming pools, fought to get their baggage back from wherever it is hidden in airports, in order to have the things essential for a seven-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old at Christmas time. They scrounged down food when airport restaurants were closed for the night and most stores were on holiday hiatus.
And the kids, our grandkids, they thrived. On Christmas Eve, once situated in his motel room — and he loves motel rooms — our seven-year-old grandson hauled out his art supplies and got to work. No stockings for Santa to fill? Not a problem. No decorative lights strung up to brighten Santa’s way? Not a problem either when you have markers and paper and a whole floor to spread out upon. And the Christmas tree? There it is was, in ten minutes, a tree colored green with a rainbow of decorations and a magnificent star far brighter than the one on our perfect balsam. His mother borrowed scissors and tape from the motel’s front desk, and he cut them all out, the tree with its radiant star, the stockings, one for each of them with their names clearly written on the white fluffy borders, the string of lights in bold brilliant colors, and he taped them to the wall, decked the room with holiday cheer, and, along with the milk and cookies, left a sweet note for Santa to place the gifts underneath each stocking. And, lo and behold, the next morning, just like our seven-year-old-grandson knew it would happen, Santa arrived. He didn’t need the fancy tree or the hand-knit stockings or the fridge filled with holiday treats or the carefully- wrapped presents or the perfectly-vacummed house. And later that night, after racing with his two-year-old sister through the Detroit airport’s colored-light-filled tunnel and playing by the fantastic fountain, with great enthusiasm, he told a Delta agent that this was the best Christmas ever.
And the celebration continued. On the Third Day of Christmas, the sun shined and the drive to Iron Mountain was easy and the perfect balsam still glimmered and shimmered and we joyfully unwrapped perfectly-wrapped presents and ate feast food and played with the Grandma-and-Grandpa-house-toys and we cuddled and snuggled and watched holiday movies and the house was happy. I could feel it, the happiness in a house messed up and tousled and no longer perfectly-prepared. I can still feel it, the happiness in the make-shift, the enthusiasm that all is possible in the moment when we carry with us a positive attitude, along with our paper and markers. Let’s bring this remembering, this ease and lightness, into the new year, into the new decade. Happy 2020!