This was an interesting and quite different Christmas---for most of us. COVID reconfigured our
traditions; our celebrations were distant, untouchable and at times sad and lonely. Many were
wondering when we would ever return to our normalcy, and if we did, what will that life look like. Turns out, that wondering may last longer than we expected. The COVID19 has a nasty cousin.
Selecting gifts for each other was especially confusing…shopping in stores was dangerous, so many of us bought online. Amazon trucks could not move fast enough; the yellow smile was seen everywhere, and often drivers and customers became fast friends. It is reported, that if some drivers did not deliver to a certain house for more than a few days, they would stop anyway just to check on the family’s wellbeing.
I was no different than most. Although I shopped early (my hyperactive personality dictating my
behavior), I was not happy about the purchases I made. Maybe they were a bit trite, too expected, or inappropriate, but my excitement was held at bay; my usual anticipation of Christmas giving was just not there. But I soldiered on, mostly for my children and grandchildren.
Two weeks before Christmas day, my son, Keith, who lives with his wife and two children several hours away, told me they would be celebrating by themselves this year; they were afraid of spreading the virus. Although I understood, part of my heart sank. Keith went on to say that he was sending everyone in the family the same gift, and that we were not to open it until the pre-arranged three o’clock family zoom meeting on Christmas afternoon. He wanted us to open his gift all at the same time, and he wanted to see us when we did. I promised I would honor his wish and that I would pass his request on to the rest of the family. Keith repeated several times how much we were going to love his present. In farcical, sibling rivalry with his older sisters, he said he would again be the favorite child when we saw his present Apparently, he had slipped down the rung of favorites sometime that fall, and he was certain that would be rectified on Christmas day.
When Christmas day came, all our family, sisters, aunts, children, and grandchildren were eagerly awaiting the three o’clock zoom. When the bewitching hour arrived, and we were all ready, my son said “OK, you can open now.” As we simultaneously tore the paper off our treasures, we sat in stunned silence. We each were given a book of poetry entitled Slopes, with a pen and ink cartoon drawing of four skiers flying down a hill over numerous moguls. At the bottom of the slope, leading the way, was daughter, Sadie, pigtails flying, then son, Bear, airborne with baseball hat on backwards, Mom, not far behind, ponytail askew, and at the top of the slope was Dad, looming tall and protective.
At the bottom of the cover was written: A collection of poetry by W. Keith Euker
I was stunned. I did not quite understand, so I said “Keith, are these some of your poems that you collected?” After a momentary silence he quietly said “No, Mother, I wrote them.”
He went on to explain that he had written most of them during the last several months while
evaluating his current state of navigating his Slopes. Many of the poems were about his wife, his children, our extended family, nature, and his career. As I read his gift later that night, I was struck by the power of print. Simple words can ease anxiety, calm hearts, and provide bold affirmation of our innermost thoughts. They are a confirmation of how we see others and ourselves and enable our thoughts to manifest into reality.
They can also make Christmas, Christmas.
Thank you, son, for reminding me.