Monday, December 17, 2007

Neither dead nor resting, but in that headspace where what I want most for Christmas is to lock myself in my room and not emerge until the manuscript is finished. This is normal for writers—when the words flow like the pipes burst and water is cascading onto the floor. All we can do is fill notebooks and screens as quickly as our fingers allow us. Vocalized sentences are short—disjointed—the incoherent half-thoughts of an emergency situation.

Much has happened this half-month, as the roller coaster that began in early September has yet to find the smooth straight slow-down before we disembark.

Saturday night, I set aside a partial outline and the blinding rush that comes when a project is less than six chapters from completion, and sat beside friends who had gathered with me to celebrate the holidays.

My mother asked me to write a (very) short piece to accompany a family photo in the Kamloops Daily News about what Christmas means to our family, and it had me thinking about what Christmas means to me—the scattered images that the word recalls.

Making mashed potatoes in a giant lobster pot the year we slept on Yukiko's floor, and our Christmas bird was chicken from a Brazilian restaurant. The year I learned why each note of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" or "I'll be home for Christmas" is so often tinged with melancholy. The year I learned why "White Christmas" is the same. Snow. Breath misting in the air, as my small voice joined my friends when we went caroling when no one went caroling anymore. My dog with his back against the tiles before the fireplace, panting but refusing to leave the warmth. A hockey rink floor and several of the arena seats filled with people gathered for the church celebrations. The first time I saw the Kamakura Daibutsu, and when we got lost trying to find Tokyo Tower. Christmas shopping in Omiya. Christmas shopping in Pasadena. Dinner at my grandparents.

Times is irrelevant. Things and places mingle and blur. People remain clear.

Christmas is just another day when it isn't spent with those you love.


Karen Mahoney said...

"My dog with his back against the tiles before the fireplace, panting but refusing to leave the warmth."

Love this image. Made me smile. :)

Baraness said...

This is so beautifully written. Sigh.