What with the moving truck showing up two days after Christmas, without her I'd be tempted to let things slide. I'd be tempted to put in a half-effort, to figure that next year is time enough for us to get it together and have a real celebration. But now, even when I tell myself that she won't remember it, I know she'll hold her first Christmas in her heart somewhere, in the part of her that tells her what it's all about, and I want that to be a solid place for her.
She makes me ready, her fair face peeping out behind hair that could use the serious and dedicated application of some scissors. For her, I want more than decorations thrown up at the last minute. In fact, the decorations don't matter so much anymore. It's the heart of the season that I want her to feel, right from the very beginning.
I went on a retreat, once, and drew several pictures of trees. Most of them were green, even the one with the moonlight. But one was a tree in winter, naked branches surrounded by snow and grey sky. I shared the retreat and the pictures that illuminated it, and the most baffling commenter said, "The green ones are beautiful and speak of life and growth. But I don't know what to make of that [grey] one. It's so sad."
And I didn't get it, because winter is beautiful, too, all glistening white and warm lights beckoning from windows and getting to see the craggy glory of the branches. A different kind of beauty I could give him, a kind that reminds of longing and things that aren't complete, but beauty still. Like sadness is beautiful.
Nurturing is a kind of winter, asking my soul to give up itself for another. I am woman, but it doesn't come natural. It brings me to my knees, making Christmas for her in the places my feet rest right now. But there is life and joy and beauty, alongside the conviction that we are walking a dark path, a night path, one that runs through groves of naked trees.
We're waiting, the trees and I, for something to make sense of the snow. Maybe that's what he meant, my commenter - snow is beautiful, but if that was all we ever knew, we'd grow tired of it. The cold would overwhelm and our hearts would falter. Mine would, anyway. But I'm not sure I could ever grow tired of spring.
Though it's here the hitch appears to lie: Would I love a forever-spring if I never saw winter's bleak beauty?
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