Friday, December 24, 2010

They Have to Take You In

Margaret and Adam yesterday evening welcomed Rob home for the holidays from Out West where he works. By the time they grow accustomed to his face he'll be jetting westward again. Thousands of service members from every branch are traveling from Coast to Coast and beyond and that's not including the units who are rotating from or deploying to Afghanistan as the rest of us stumble and mumble through the chorus of Adeste Fideles.

An acquaintance traveled to be with her family on the Other Coast after preparing for weeks for an Eastward trek that would have taken her far away from everyone she knew, but that didn't happen. In the house across the street, our neighbors welcomed home from college their youngest child on semester break into the New Year.

All of us know one or two people who are packing for, or unpacking from, journeys to near and far but mostly to and from someplace they call home.

In our house my wife is going through her checklist making sure everything is ready for Christmas in a household that blends German traditions and American ones to create something all its own and with which she and I are perfectly comfortable after thirty-three Christmases together (thirty-four if you count the night we met but that's a story for tomorrow). Sigrid, as always, did all the decorating inside and out, enlisting our daughter, Michelle, as a consultant and some-time pack mule as strings of light encircled the porch and various animals were assembled on the front lawn near the right of way.

They did a marvelous job of decorating the small Douglas fir I finally failed to kill years ago (unlike the two seedlings that proceeded it) with the lawnmower during the summer season so now it's bedecked in bulbs and glows and gleams on the small plot outside the back fence beside the garage.

We even had a few flakes in the course of the last few days--nothing of note and little that stuck (though I did pull the snowblower out of the garage, stowing it under the backstairs and making sure it was oiled and gassed 'just in case') which triggered an assault on the feeder boxes by the squirrels and made for some happy woodpeckers (Walter Lantz really had no clue) as they gorged themselves on suet, since this time of year no one should want for anything though far too many do.

With luck (and I'll cross my fingers (which will explain my terrible typing)) perhaps Patrick and Jamie will join us late in the day as we sit around the festively decorated tree and open presents while oohing and aahing. Maybe this year we'll post pictures directly to Facebook as some half a billion travelers on the Big Blue Marble do on a daily basis so that people we know, and others we don't but think we do, can share in something they believe they understand when its actual meaning is personal and private.

There will be enough glitz and spritz (not my first choice of word) to almost,but not quite, cause me to forget the insight a son of New England offered long before he stood bare-headed in the freezing cold a half century ago as another New England native assumed the mantle of leadership as Camelot began. And Mary and Warren learned a truth, thanks to Silas. For countless others, everywhere, "Echoes and silence, patience and grace. All of these moments, I'll never replace. No fear of my heart, and absence of faith. And all I want is to be home."
-bill kenny

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