The magic seemed to be lacking.
I posted a link to A Charlie Brown Christmas on Facebook earlier today, mostly because I felt that it summed up my mood fairly well. I had no desire to be around anyone…I just wanted to spend Christmas alone this year.
Strange I should say this after making a decision early this morning, and then find myself packing in the space of about five minutes, and then heading out the door (sometime after 4 p.m.) and making a three–hour-plus drive to spend the holidays down south.
There should be snow, I thought. After all, this was Christmas; but unfortunately there was nothing to fulfill this yuletide wish. And as I drove through the windswept hills of southern Utah, the cloudless sky offered nothing in the hopes of a wintery wonderland arrayed in purest white.
I blew out an exasperated breath and gazed at the skyline. The angry sun was burning an evening fire, and the bloodshot cerise made an impressive backdrop to the silhouetted junipers and pinion pines atop the hills I flew by.
I needed this drive. I needed to clear my head and be somewhere ‘not home’ and yet ‘home’ at the same time.
I listened to Christmas music.
As I drove, I thought of those who’d passed on, and as the shadowy twilight shrouded the landscape, the sky above me darkened into an inky azure.
That’s about the time it happened; it was right before Fillmore I saw the snow…loads of it scattered about the landscape on both sides of the interstate…all the way to Paragonah—some 85 miles worth of it.
As a wonderfully familiar Christmas song came on, I saw a star blazing ahead of me on the horizon, though—admittedly—it was probably just the planet Mars. It brought to mind the three wise men that traveled over miles of desert, all in order to catch but a glimpse of the tiny, newborn babe…lying in a manger.
My thoughts were fragmented.
In the darkness about me, the lights of distant towns twinkled like lights on a Christmas tree…filling the space between us
It was as if I were gathering small pieces of Christmas along my journey…
I recalled a conversation I’d had with a student of mine earlier this week. He seemed to think that Christmas was all about the gifts we get. Yet, when I asked him if he’d rather have every gift on his list, yet spend the entire holiday alone, or not to get any of the presents, and have his loved ones and family with him, without hesitation he chose his family.
“I think you’re right, Mr. Z,” he’d said afterward. “I guess Christmas really is about the people and not the things.”
I thought of the Thought of the Month I’d written to my students.
I realized that before I’d been far too focused on what Christmas is not, instead of what it is. I recalled the events that spurred me into making the trek down here when I’d formerly decided not to.
It was a photograph…several, actually. It was of a Christmas—and other special times—from two years ago. In the photo I saw some of the people I truly cared about and—at that moment—decided that this is the place where I truly needed to be.
Five or so minutes later I was on the road and on my way.
Somewhere upon my arduous journey, I felt it. I remembered what Christmas was supposed to be.
It was wonderful.
And when I pulled up to the Monk’s house sometime after 7, the lights that garnished the house ignited within me a Spielbergian wonder. I turned off the ignition and slipped into the house—unseen—though the basement door. When I made my grand entrance to the living room upstairs, I was accosted by the Mancub—not yet too cool to show he’d missed me, even though he’s a middle schooler.
As I sat at the kitchen table with these people that I know and love, my mind careened again back to the conversation I’d had with my student. It was then that I realized that this is truly Christmas.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Santa did honor Tanner’s request from two years ago for a smaller head…he’s grown into his quite nicely.