The faces smile out at me from other people’s Christmas cards. They’re so happy, I think, and I vow to take more pictures, maybe even to get it together to send cards, albeit late ones since it is already well into December.
And then I remember: moments captured in time do not tell the whole story. I know these people, the ones who send me cards. And while they are wonderful, often joyous people, Christmas card senders — like all people — have their difficulties.
Not too many people spill the darker deeper grapple-in-the night moments in their Christmas cards. They don’t say “Little Tommy was in size four tennis shoes for months before we realized he was a six.” They don’t say, “Most mornings I am in a panic just trying to find my keys,” or “I’m so tired of my job,” or “The husband and I rarely have sex.”
No. We get nothing from holiday cards except good tidings and cheer. And, I have to say, I’m on board. Or at least I’m getting on board.
Why, just the other day I was in such a good frame of mind that my son didn’t think I should drive.
“You’re drunk,” Eli said.
I’d had a glass of wine at a pizza joint, but certainly not enough to surpass the legal limit.
“I’m not,” I protested. “Why do you say that?”
He looked at me then, straight in the eyes.
“You’re just acting much happier than usual,” he said.
I laughed, because it was true that I felt happy, but not true that it had anything to do with alcohol, or at least not everything. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I wish it came so easily in a bottle.
I think it was because I’d worked hard all day on a project I believe in. I’d spent time with people who believe in that project with me. And I’d committed to spending quality time with my family outside the home because the previous night had been a horror show, with me acting out my favorite early scenes from “The Taming of the Shrew.” Or maybe I had been channeling “Mommie Dearest.”
Either way, I’d vowed to work on getting everybody out from in front of screens to sit face-to-face and interact. And it had worked, swimmingly.
Despite the cold and the dismissing of the idea to see the lights in Dyker Heights because they were too far away, we’d gotten in the car and taken a little adventure to a different neighborhood. The food was mediocre, but the service was nice and the company was spectacular, my little men, their bright and shining selves.
And so it was noted, that I was “happier than usual,” which didn’t even put a damper on things and make me think what a miserable sow I must be normally to elicit this response to my near-giddiness.
I took the opportunity to say instead, “I like spending time with you,” and he said it right back, my 12-year-old, without skipping a beat, “I like spending time with you too.”
And I just took it in, breathed in the wondrous moment instead of running to put it on Facebook or take a photo of us to put in the Christmas card I’m never going to send. And I realized. It is a law of averages. It is what good gamblers know, that you win some and you lose some, you’re dealt good hands and bad. Sometimes you have to switch tables to change the energy and find your sweet spot.
And it is with this thought that I’m moving forward into the holidays, to appreciate the moments when joy makes a beautiful surprise appearance and everyone feels it.