Last night, I found myself sitting alone in our living room after everyone had gone to bed. The Christmas tree in the corner provided the room’s only light, and Christmas carols played on the stereo. I realized that I was repeating a scene that I had witnessed for many years. As a young boy, I would sleep over at my Grandparents, and late at night during Christmas season, I would leave my room and sneak up the hall to watch my Grandfather Erwin sit quietly in the dark, staring at the tree, deep in thought. I knew not to disturb him, I just watched him sit alone, and I wondered what he was thinking. Later after my grandfather had passed, I witnessed my father engage in the same ritual, sitting in the dark, admiring the tree, and deep in thought. I will never know what drew them to those moments of solitude right before Christmas. Two men in my life who couldn’t have been more polar opposite, except in my love for them both. I only know that there was something especially comforting about that period of quiet I enjoyed last night.
Christmas season is a busy season full of things to do, places to be, and people to see. Our senses are overwhelmed with smells, tastes, noises, and sights. Everyone’s energy level seems turned up several notches; kids are bouncing off walls, and we can’t go or be anywhere without feeling crowded, rushed, and lost all at the same time. Christmas season is not for one who abhors multi-tasking. Maybe that’s why both my father and grandfather sought out a similar retreat, late at night, in the dark.
Tomorrow morning, the children will scramble all around the tree removing the presents from its base, packages will be opened, ribbons will be cut, food will be eaten, everyone will go out and play, we will return and take our new gifts to our room, babies will nap, children will go their way, adults will visit or watch football, and all of a sudden Christmas will go quiet. Then I will look into my memory bank and remember a second scene. Grandfather Erwin returning after the Christmas bustle to the living room, taking a seat, and quietly staring at the tree. My father would do the same, he would return to a now empty room save only a Christmas tree with no presents, sit quietly, and think quietly to himself. I think I will join them this year.
Your Friend, Webb