beautiful day

On a beautiful day that I dream about
In a world I would love to see
Is a beautiful place where the sun comes out
And it shines in the sky for me
On this beautiful winter's morning
If my wish could come true somehow
Then the beautiful day that I dream about
Would be here and now

—Sung by Bob Cratchit’s Tiny Tim, in the musical "Scrooge"

Christmastime seems an odd time of year, so much emphasis on the material and yet as much on the giving as in the getting. I remember the sweet anticipation I had on Christmas mornings, as a kid, sprinting down our long hallway into the living room wondering what Santa had brought and hoping, at the very least, he’d left me candy and stuffed animals.

Our son Calvin knows nothing of Christmas, Santa, Jesus, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or why some people celebrate them. He’s oblivious to the rush of the holidays, the traffic and long lines, the ridiculous reflexive press—as if it were stamped into our DNA—to turn out umpteen-hundred greeting cards without stopping to sign much less include a personal message to some all-but-lost correspondences (though I must admit I love getting them.) In many ways I think Calvin is lucky not to have to worry about such things, not to have to experience the painful disappointment in receiving the wrong gifts, not to have to go to school after winter break and ashamedly compare his modest holiday loot with his peers only to trudge home thoroughly dejected.

And—mostly—I feel lucky, too, for my circumstances don’t warrant getting caught up in too much of the rigmarole that consumes much of the holiday season. But I also feel sad.

Though Michael and I aren't Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus the way we'd been brought up to do, we still mildly indulge in some secular aspects of the holiday. I’d love to wake up Christmas morning to Calvin jumping into bed with us before scurrying downstairs to unwrap presents. I’d love to see him rip apart the colorful printed paper, peeling it down to its surprise center. I’d love to lavish him with peppermint candies and homemade eggnog. I’d love to teach him how to make an orange and clove pomander, cut snowflakes out of folded paper and tape them to the windows, decorate gingerbread cookies, build a snowman, watch him sled down a hill with his daddy and decorate a tree with me. Instead, we buy few—if any—presents. Calvin doesn’t open them and we don’t make holiday crafts together—he can’t. We don’t much go out in the snow since walking in it is impossible for him. And we don’t decorate a tree anymore because—since Calvin was born—those ragged cardboard boxes filled with glinting glass ornaments wrapped in crumpled newspaper and nestled in egg cartons, feel empty—soulless—and it's just no fun to decorate, particularly because in a perfect world my sweet little boy would be helping me. Instead, I sit here wishing I could just kick those boxes off to the Island of Misfit Toys. But I keep them and they're gathering dust in the basement, while I continue hoping—perhaps in vain—that one day things might be different.

Then something reminds me of Dickens’ sweet little golden-haired boy, Tiny Tim, perched on his father’s weary shoulder, an iron brace supporting his leg and a worn wooden crutch tucked under his arm. The image of Tiny Tim conjures feelings of joy and sorrow as twisted as the crippled boy’s frame. In front of a huge hearth he sings a song to his family with the face and voice of an angel—a song about what really makes him happy: here and now. Just like Calvin, I think. Just what Calvin has taught me to do: to love and cherish life and home and family, all things that can’t be purchased, boxed up, wrapped with ribbon or set under a gleaming tree.

And, in the back of my mind, is this lonely black and white image of that little wooden chair snuggled up to a huge fireplace, a wee crutch absent an owner, leaning coldly against its back. And I think to myself—hope to myself—that this beautiful day, this here and now with my husband and our sweet boy Calvin will last a good part of forever.

Version originally published 12.25.11.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! I sure understand. My son Henry couldnot care less about "the holidays" though he does like all the cookies. I buy him a few gifts which I simply put into gift bags so I can pull them out for him...he isn't interested at all in presents and detests unwrapping. In fact he probably won't be at all interested in what I got him...the whole exercise is really just for me.