Listening to every heart
Some early Christmas, for serenity...
Christmas Eve in N’Awlins
There were no hustling bustling big breasted
women, no, no,
not on Christmas Eve…
there were no parades, no fanfare
no savoir faire, no lady fair
not on Christmas Eve…
we walked the streets to feel replete
before we ate, to completely sate
two alone on Christmas Eve…
I did not know the lady then
for she has only come to me, now, when
she said “it’s a state of mind”
On Christmas Eve
We walked the streets, just two of us
heels clicking in the quiet,
there, on Christmas Eve…
soft the sounds of quiet round
and ghosts did speak
on Christmas Eve
the buildings, warm,
told of stories and storms
then, on Christmas Eve
and quietly she spoke, a state
of mind awoke
then, on Christmas Eve
N’Awlins called my name to me
it sounded sweet, Karilea
in echoes of Christmas Eve
A state of mind? Oh yes, I’ll find
My where in when
there, some then,
some future Christmas Eve.
Remember, serenity? It was AFTER I visited your beautiful city that I learned you lived there. I so enjoyed my time there, and it would be wonderful to come for a visit again soon. Like before I turn 100.
And I AM going to turn 100.
One of my favorite Christmas stories to tell on myself was the year that I broke one of Mom’s cardinal rules. Being the eldest, I was expected to follow all rules and set examples and she didn’t leave much wiggle room, that was for sure. What was good for the youngest was good for the eldest and vice versa. But this one year Mom and Dad had really talked “poor mouth”, that there wouldn’t be much of a Christmas, and they weren’t very sure that even Santa could make it much better, either. Wow. That was REALLY bad if Santa couldn’t make it. I was at the age where I knew Santa was really Dad and Mom, working to hide things throughout the year, and they did such a good job all year long we kids NEVER knew where things were placed. [I found out later they used a friend’s house…]
But of course brother and sister were younger and we had to “keep” the magic of Christmas, so I had to do what they had to do and at that pre-teen time, it was pretty rankling to be treated like an adult during the day and as one of the little kids at night. But that year, I had a “plan”.
So when we were all admonished to stay in bed until the next morning, and not rush out before Mom and Dad were awake, I thought, “ha!”
And on Christmas Eve, against mother’s own rule, she closed the hall door that led to the living room. [She, who feared fire more than anything, was a huge advocate of always leaving all doors open for emergencies.]
When I heard Dad and Mom settle in, and gave them another 30 minutes to fall asleep, I slowly got out of my bunkbed [top level] and wouldn’t you know, that very night, I heard creaks in the ladder and in my bedroom wood floor that I had NEVER heard before! With the idea that I could always say I “had to go to the bathroom”, I had my “alibi” prepared.
When one is sneaking around, it’s amazing how their own breathing echoes loudly in their own ears, and oh my, was that my heart beating so loudly?
I’d never make a good thief. I haven’t the nerves for it.
The hallway doorknob was within my grasp. I could see the Christmas lights glowing around the doorframe. I handled the doorknob easily, quietly, and closed in on the door so I could peek quickly.
Oh, My, Gosh.
For a “not-much” Christmas, it looked as if Santa had used TWO sleighs. Apparently it had been a bumper year in ways the parents hadn’t shared, because I hadn’t see SO MUCH STUFF ever in my life, and all under, around, and IN our tree.
In the glow of Christmas lights, I could feel a lump begin in my throat. Mom and Dad…always pinching pennies, always taking on second and third jobs. Always fixing this or repairing that, and shopping at the Salvation Army for clothes to “get by.” Stretching hamburger six ways to Sunday. Doing without, so their three kids could have something they needed – maybe not the best, or the most, but we got by.
That room was full of more than gifts. It was full of the love of two parents who knew that raising children wasn’t easy, and not all years would be good years, but when they could be good, they would be special, and shining, and memorable.
Going back to bed didn’t seem quite as loud in my ears. But I was aware that in going against the rules, I had robbed myself of the enthusiasm that my brother and sister would have the next day of hurrying Mom and Dad up and out of bed. My giggle wouldn’t quite be like theirs, full of anticipation. I already knew what was behind the door…and I knew that while the gifts would still be a surprise…I had let myself down. I had taken a step toward growing up, and becoming an adult, and realizing that someday I would have children, and would have to plan carefully to give them the kind of loving Christmas my parents were giving me.
It was the year of my first diary.