Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In the Afterglow

It was Two Thousand Twelve, twenty-fifth of December,
A day that it fills me with joy to remember.
Our families came to spend Christmas together
In spite of some terrible, threatening weather.
The skies, they were black, and the rains were torrential,
Yet Christmas lost none of its magic potential.

The weather forecasts for Christmas Day were dire at best, with violent storms, possibly including hail and tornados, predicted for precisely the time of our own Christmas gathering at my daughter Kelli's home. I don't like to leave my dogs at home alone in bad weather, and I don't like to drive in it, but there was no way I was going to miss a chance to be with that particular group of people on that special day. 

I decided to leave early and see if I could get there ahead of the storm. I just made it. The skies opened up and dumped rivers of rain, then, oddly but quite nicely, fizzled to a drizzle as each new carload of family members arrived.

The young and the older, arriving in shifts,
Brought smiles and good wishes and armloads of gifts,
And inside the house, with its lights all aglow,
The merriment rose with each paper and bow
Tossed aside by a toddler, a sweet girl or boy,
Whose eyes shone more brightly with each unwrapped toy.

The youngest of the grandchildren is twenty now, so the excitement torch has been passed to the great-grandchildren, Owen and Olivia. Olivia was more interested in the bows than in the presents, but Owen, at two and three-quarters now, enjoyed the whole shebang. He played Santa's helper, happily delivering gifts as directed by his PopeƩ, Troy. Among Owen's own gifts was a kid-sized tool bench. He, having a small amount of nasal congestion, promptly dubbed it "the tool bitch," and you can imagine how often we tried to work that phrase into the conversation over the course of the afternoon.

On Dasher, on Dancer, on Donder and Blitzen--
Just smell the aromas that come from the kitchen!
There's shrimp fettuccine and crisp crawfish pies,
And pot roast and meatballs and audible sighs
At the display of cookies and candies galore.
Taste one, then another, then sample some more.

There was so much good food that I didn't even get around to tasting all of it. God knows I tried. Last night, for the first time in over two years, I had to unzip my pants after I got home, just to find enough comfort and breathing room to last until bedtime.

The kids were the focus till late in the day
When we knew it was time for the grown-ups to play.
A Christmas Day game is traditional now,
So we pondered the options that time would allow,
And decided charades would be given a go--
There's an app for that now, in case you didn't know.

According to an earlier post, the Christmas games tradition began about 2004, with the men and women on opposite teams playing Battle of the Sexes. Charades, though an old game by almost every standard, was new for us.

This year we chose teams by size instead of by sex, playing tall against small, and the teams turned out to be fairly evenly matched. The best-acting Oscars would have gone to Jeremy on the tall team and Kandis on the smalls. Both of them seemed to have remarkable abilities to zero in on the most important aspects of their allotted words or phrases and act out clues that conveyed them almost instantly. The words weren't easy, either: claustrophobia and turbulence, for example.

It's often a leap of faith for people to step outside their vulnerable skins and throw themselves into the spirit of a silly game. It's an exercise in trust and, in the best cases, a heartwarming demonstration of love and acceptance--all played out amidst riotous laughter.

The echos of laughter, the joy that still lingers
From down by my toes to the tips of my fingers,
Remind me that love is where everything starts--
The thoughts in our minds, the peace in our hearts--
And if we let love guide the actions we take,
The words that we say, the decisions we make,
Though storms may rain on us and strong winds may blow,
Love will see us through safely, wherever we go.

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