An idea board hangs on the door of the two- and three-year-old class at Lala’s preschool. At the top it reads, “What We Know About Clothes.” One line catches my attention: “Corduroy is kind of like crackers.”
So yesterday morning I’m snuggled warm under my cozy corduroy patchwork quilt and think that these squares do feel like the best kind of crackers minus the crumbs. I enjoy glimpses of the dining room table and the sideboard dresser, of the top of the bookshelf and the side table touched softly by Christmas.
It all feels like tender gift.
To my left are two stacks of red books, and on top of one stack the Christmas matryoshka dolls. I feel the wood in my hands, the smooth of their glaze as I take them apart one at a time, and again. The snowman with the small spring green tree in its middle; the big Santa with the small solid Santa at its center.
I count the parts, put them back together, and it is a meditation. I feel transported to another time as I open and push shut, feel little girl me and grownup me at once.
I sit with the Psalms laid across my lap, and I read words of anguish and thanks, of running and longing, and I am pulled back to another time.
I am right here, but I’m also right there in the folds of those words.
After writing for so many days about right here, the last month seems to have been more about simply living it. Living the (extra)ordinary mundane while taking trips back to older days. Because there’s the scheduling via email, the giving away of baby items and recycling of school papers. There are the familiar questions about purpose, significance and mission among the loads to charity, school conferences and service projects.
Around here, we are easing our way into this Christmas season (as much as that can be done) as we belt out the carols and snip the white paper snowflakes, as we unwrap decorations and think about making gifts. In the midst of the swirl, I’m trying to hold on to last month’s giving of thanks because I long for thanks and giving to go hand in hand.
As I feel the clamor and risings of responsibility and memory making, I remember anew the choice to give thanks or live stressed.
I know which one I want to choose. This morning I’m carrying forward in my heart the house full of family. Sleeping bags everywhere, sharing a house with my sister, our niece and nephews and brother-in-law. The humor of ten people jockeying for one bathroom.
I’m carrying forward our backyard chestnut farm with individual plots, carved out with children’s raking energies and handmade signs. I’m carrying forward cousins giggling and doting on babies and piling on an ever-changing combination of dress-up clothes. I’m carrying forward my girls cuddled round this year’s first reading of the Christmas stories.
I’m carrying forward Thanksgiving morning and hand-written notes from the thankfulness box filled throughout November — slip after slip of what we slow to recognize as gift.
“A warm house.”
“Grandparents and cousins.”
Then we read,
“Turkey and glue.”
“Fish or chicks” and
“Paper and Mama,” and we laugh hard.
“I meant to write ‘Papa,’ but I accidentally wrote ‘Paper,'” J says, shrugging.
I’m carrying forward Thanksgiving not as a day, but thanks giving as a way, a portal of joy right through the season of gifts.
Because aren’t all thanks but gifts wrapped in moments?