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Christmas is Here

I am sitting down to write, early, during these pre-dawn moments of the Winter Solstice, December 2023. I am waiting for the sunrise while still encapsulated in the aura of night. Christmas will soon be here.

Each Christmas brings new circumstances, new events, and occurrences, both in our world and within our families. This Christmas our world is brazenly flashed across the screens of our lives and is volatile and tense. I would never attempt to comment on any of that, for I find it hard to find truth, much that we see is illusion. Anyway, while trying to create a column, I looked through my document folders and I found a Sunday column from 2011. It was Christmas day, and I wrote about the place I was in. Twelve Christmases later, almost all has changed…life moves on with rapidity and people come and go and places change, and beginnings and endings are there waiting in the wings. I resubmit this time and place to illustrate, to emphasize…to ’enjoy the now’.

December 25, 2011

In my kitchen there are a few precocious camellias floating in a clear bowl of water, brought in from the barren winter yard. There are fresh picked oranges and the last of the Satsumas scattered about, the narcissi bulbs I began forcing the day after Thanksgiving are struggling to bloom but are fat and about to open nonetheless, the Menorah has been lit for 5 nights, the Fraser fir is looking a bit weary but still sending the fragrance of Christmas throughout the house, the advent calendar is donned and completed and so, I think, it must be Christmas Day. I have collected many Christmas memories for Christmas 2011 and hopefully, they will carry me through with a spirit of joy and hope until next year.

My memories do not center around the mall or online shopping sites, those places wreck it for me, instead, they are about people I have met and places I have been...

One recent evening, Skip and I found our way to a wonderful place in the country near the village of Loreauville, Gerald Judice’s woodworking shop. It was a visit that was unplanned, just a random call on a December evening. We spent a long while there for there was so much to see and so many wonderful things to hear and learn, like what kind of pecan trees to plant, tips on growing strawberries, how to protect citrus from freezing temperatures, and how the bluebird population has curiously increased in Loreauville. He showed us beautiful bowls his daughter, Emily, had, just that afternoon, made and crosses Lauren created from pieces of cypress and mahogany. I even came home with scraps of sunken cypress and beautiful mahogany to use for the “peace” crosses I am currently painting – it really was like visiting Santa’s workshop for me – so many treasures were there, so much creativity and craftsmanship to absorb. We also left with blood oranges and bunches of broccoli to eat and to juice and pecans for nibbling and baking. What a magical interruption from the hyper- consumerism that is the Holidays.

Then, there was the late December afternoon and a cup of hot tea and wistful conversation in my kitchen with my friend Tere – a conversation rooted in history and words spoken in a way that takes time, time that only old friends can know.

I spent time with family, something I do not ever take for granted; they are here, and all is well with my world. My brother, sister, and I keep alive the memories of our parents while continuing to make memories of our own, each, somehow directed by their inspiration, bringing a piece of our past to this Christmas present.

I have experienced the gambit of emotion this holiday season from missing my parents and those days of childhood when the whole world was sprinkled with magic dust and later, those days as a young mother when I got to do it all again – kissing tiny faces late on Christmas Eve night knowing how filled up with anticipation and wonderment they were. All those days and these days are bundled together and have taken me here; here at this very moment writing this very story…everything matters.

Okay that’s it, the Christmas bells are ringing for now it’s Christmas Day – nothing else can be done; it’s here. Relax. The goose is in the oven, the living room is covered with wrapping paper and memories, the family is on their way, “may your hearts be merry and bright…”

Pam Shensky

Berry Tales

December 24, 2023

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