Three days before Christmas, I sit in a Chick-fil-A waiting for my car to be serviced. It is not yet 8:00 AM and two millennia since a great star appeared in the sky offering healing and hope to a world in decline. It is not snowing. That already happened, a rare thing here in Dixie. I still feel its magic.
I am off work for the holidays, filled with anticipation. I am not rushed or worried like so many. I am simply going to write until my car is ready, then there is grocery shopping, then off to Home Depot- I need a lamp. My pug did not mean to break the old one. She had to get her toy squirrel, right? Besides, the thing needed breaking.
After sorting out the lamp, I will drop off groceries. Then, I am off to the bookstore for coffee and more writing, and perhaps I will pick up a couple of little stocking stuffers for a few family and friends. Books are good stocking stuffers, yes?
At any rate, I sit in my booth with my yogurt parfait thinking about the ghosts of Christmas past and present, planning out my day and my next book. Next to me sits a lovely, young couple, about the same age as my daughter. How did I get so old?
A friend they know greets them. It has been a long time. In youth, a long time is anything over three months apparently. For me, until we reach a decade, it has been no time at all. I smile at the monster and mate that is time, and proceed to eavesdrop on the three new adults (let’s use the literary genre to tag them, shall we?).
I put on my headphones pretending to ignore those around me and listen. The couple, hardly able to contain themselves, announce they are expecting. They are so happy, so full of hope and life, and I am thrilled for them. New life is always new possibility for all of mankind.
Their friend, it transpires is newly married. Yes, he finally married her. Again, youth and time, so funny. I am happy for him too. He and his wife have recently purchased a townhouse like real adults sometimes do. As I continue to silently pry, he reveals the townhouse he now lives in is in the same neighborhood I used to live in until this past June. I perk up, wanting to remove all pretense and interject myself. I loved my old neighborhood. I am astounded when the newly married young man invites the expecting couple over for a New Year’s brunch and gives them his address. It is my old address. This is the young man who bought my old house. Should I ask if he has any of my mail? No, I keep listening, smiling like a madwoman.
I am so happy. I don’t know why. I say nothing. The couple has finished their breakfast and both have to be off to work, the last work day of the year. They briefly mention how Christmas had changed with their respective new families. Oh Lord, they have no idea of all the new beginnings that will top old endings. How wondrous. They depart, leaving me with my laptop and coffee, a ghost of things now gone, and a spirit of hope of things to come, still following the light of that long-ago star.
Remarkable. Life continues, chaotic and cruel at times but so full of hope and possibility. I can live with that. Or die for it. Whatever is required to keep the ball spinning, to keep creation expanding.
Merry Christmas, world. May hope rule over despair in the New Year. Cheers.