Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Single Candle

Today, three days before Christmas Eve, I drifted and did very next to nothing.  I read.  I ate.  I napped.  From the window I watched the rain swirl and patter on the pond.  A load of laundry got washed, as well as the dishes.  I did finish the last Christmas cards and did an inventory of the gifts my students gave me so I can write my proper thank yous after the holidays.  I took a walk around the pond with the dogs.

What I didn't do was bake any cookies, wrap any presents, put up the tree or do any decorating other than setting out a single candle.

Can one celebrate Christmas with a single candle?  I'd like to try.  Paring down the event to its essentials -- love, warmth, communion -- seems somehow do-able this year.  A single candle and a shared smile would do.

Yesterday at school was the typical, chaotic, last day before winter break.  The children sang and danced for their parents, we watched a movie, I taught them how to cut out snowman paper garlands, and we played BINGO.  Through it all, even while trying to be good, they were pinging off the walls in their excitement.  Many of them still believe in Santa Claus.  Their mix of innocence and worldliness amazes and touches me.  I am in awe that I have the great good fortune to be their teacher.

The best part of yesterday came right at the end of the school day, as the children were boarding the buses to take them home.  As I stood talking with another teacher, three of my former students -- all 5th graders now and usually too cool to willingly speak with me, walked past.  I interrupted my conversation to wish them a merry Christmas, which they all wished back and then climbed the steps onto their buses.  Suddenly one of them was back at my elbow, offering me a candy cane.  "This is for you," he said, "Merry Christmas!"  And then he turned and disappeared back on the bus almost before I had time to call back, "Thank you!". 

And that, dear ones, is as good as I think Christmas can get.  I'm happy with my candle flickering on the bookcase.

Tomorrow I'll get the tree up and decorated.

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