Christmas is especially conducive to reminiscing; recalling past Christmases, contemplating better times, being thankful that difficult times are past. Something in the eggnog makes us weepy and sentimental.
It is no different in the Faircloth household. For us, merely one year has seen remarkable change, and things are much different now than they were last Christmas. For instance, this year our nine year old cat, Malachi, will celebrate Christmas our of doors. This is due to the fact the Malachi came to consider orthodox feline waste elimination a restriction on his liberties. That is, he quit using the litter box. He didn’t quit going; he just quit using the box.
While we are thankful that our remaining cat, Zino, is quite satisfied to have her liberties restricted and confine her activities to the litter box, Malachi reminisces about better times, times when he could go in my shoe, in the dirty clothes hamper, or even on the dog, if he were dumb enough to remain motionless for more than a couple of minutes, which, for Roger, the German Shepherd Dog, occurs quite often.
Our joy is Malachi’s lament. But, as C S Lewis once remarked, hell for people and heaven for mosquitoes could very well be the same place.
At Christmas last year, our son, Brooks, was merely fourteen days old. His capacity to appreciate his first Advent was limited to spitting up and requiring diaper changes at the appropriate times. What a difference a year makes. Brooks is now chattering away (in an alien tongue, probably Chinese, from the sound of it), drinking from a straw, and walking quite well.
This means that he knows when silence is appropriate, and can even motor over to the Christmas tree without making a sound, grasp an ornament, and celebrate his defiance of the parental units by appropriate proclamations in fluent Alien while motoring back over to hide behind Roger, the German Shepherd Dog, who has been lying motionless for quite some time.
You’ve heard of stealth planes, stealth candidates, stealth ships. Brooks is the stealth baby. He moves in to the target undetected, and makes his strategical strike.
By the way, Roger, the German Shepherd Dog, is also thankful that Malachi is not without the house, since he no longer wakes to find he has been used for a toilet. His canine joy may be short-lived, however, as I understand that potty-training toddlers can do some very interesting things.
Christmas of 1997 Carrie and I were dating. Granddaddy was still alive for Christmas of 1993 and Grandmother for 1988. Just a few years before I was still in high school at Charles Henderson.
I can remember staying up late in our old house on Elm Street in order to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus coming down the chimney with all my presents. In keeping with young sibling rivalry, I had requested Santa not bring my sister anything good, and was sure he would take my word that she had been naughty and only deserved a lump of coal and a bag of switches. Little did I know our fireplaces were gas and no longer accommodated the girth of one whose belly shook like a bowl full of jelly.
Grandmother was also wise to our childhood attempts to discover package contents by carefully opening the wrapping, then taping it closed again. She always kept a couple of things hidden, for surprises, and I never caught on that the only presents I ever found were the underwear and socks.
I remember one Christmas so warm I could go outside in my shirt sleeves and kick around the brand new football I had gotten. It promptly became lodged in a pine tree. Another Christmas was so cold (four or five degrees) that we all just stood as close to the space heaters as social convention and body odor would permit, being sure to remind each other to rotate occasionally so that no one caught fire.
Christmas always included the traditional hymns and carols, the church special programs, and Christmas Eve serves. It included the annual trip to the attic for decorations and untangling of lights, and my favorite decoration, the nativity scene that consisted of a manger Granddaddy made and people and barnyard animals from one of my early toys. And it included the Christmas morning reading of the Christmas story.
I enjoy all the childhood memories, the traditions, the eggnog, mistletoe, carols and candy. I am thankful for my growing family, good health, and close friends.
But I am truly and especially thankful for the purpose of Christmas: the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.