Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Heart Knows

I guess I'm getting nostalgic.
Or old.

Or both.

But I just keep going back in my mind 
to younger days-
and today is no exception.

I put up my Christmas tree Tuesday-
and the room is now filled with
this glowing triangle of mismatched 
ornaments and crooked stars-
guaranteed to put you right in the mood 
to celebrate the season.

Or eat cookies.

(Guess which one I picked?)

Anyway- that tree made me
think back to the trees we had
when I was a kid.
Real trees.
of $5 joy.

We always put the tree up in the
same corner of the living room-
lugging out the colored lights
that were as big as hamsters-
hanging plastic Santas
and tarnished balls-
and then covering the whole thing
in a gazillion silver icicles.

(They were always full of
static electricity that grabbed
your sweater or socks each time you passed 
until you eventually looked like
a disco ball.)

But that tree was like a shrine to us.
The magical spot where presents 
would appear on Christmas day.
We would sit for hours and hours
just staring into the lights-
dreaming about pages 1 through 289
in the Sears Wish Book.

For some reason, my sister and I
always wanted dolls.
We both got the same model-
except hers was blonde
and mine was brunette.

I guess that was just in case
one of us broke off a plastic arm
while playing Swing the Statue-
or decided to leave dolly
naked in the closet or
drowning in the bath tub.
No trading dolls when heads were turned.
Yes, Mom Dad  Santa was smart!

My brothers always got cool things like
cars and robots and games and guns.
And when those were torn up, 
or abandoned-
they would come and play barber shop
with our dolls.

We had some really ugly babies back then.

But, I especially remember Christmas season
back when I was about nine years old.
For some reason my Mom and I
were alone that night,
sitting in the dark
in front of the lit tree.

We got to talking about some people
at church and the fact came up that
one woman there had lost her baby.

I was horrified.

Babies really die?
Where do they go?
Why does it happen?

Mom tried to explain the best she could.
I know she was totally unprepared
for my reaction.
But she assured me that the baby was in heaven
and that Jesus was taking care of her.

The conversation then focused on Jesus
and I cried and cried and 
we talked and talked
way into the night. 

Later Mom told me
I was saved that night.

Now, everyone is intitled to
their opinion about religion
and their God,
but I know in my heart
that my God was with me that night.

(And all the nights after).

Sure- my Mom wasn't a preacher
or a priest or a pastor.
But we both knew something
spiritual and moving 
had happened that night.

Later, in my adulthood,
I was saved and baptized in a church.
...For ceremonial purposes.
...For the satisfaction of others.

It's easy to understand why
-that even now -
when I gaze at the glowing tree-
I have fond memories of my mother.

And my heart is at peace.

...Because I know
the true meaning 
of Christmas.