25 December 2011

Nostalgia For The Present

       Christmas telescopes time.

       As an adult, one Christmas becomes all Christmasses. You become who you were, in every Christmas past....The seven-year-old you that was delighted into awestruck silence by the beauty of the lighted tree, at five in the morning when you snuck down to see if you could actually catch santa; the eighteen year old you, being a bit mouthy, feeling impatient with these older people who JUST did not GET it, rolling your eyes at your parents, and antsy to go hang out with your friends; the you in your twenties, who almost doesn't go home for Christmas dinner because, well, your family will always be there, always...all of you laughing, trying to top each other's jokes, waving a turkey leg around to emphasize a point at the dinner table...and finally, the later you. The you who means to have time for your brothers and sister but you're busy, and time goes by fast, and they live so far away, and besides, they know you love them...the you who watches with loving trepidation as your elderly mother insists on taking the huge pan out of the oven herself; the you who would give anything, anything, to have five more minutes with the father you rolled your eyes at, so long ago.

    And since all Christmasses are this Christmas, because Christmas telescopes time, we get to keep all Christmasses as now. It's not about what-and who-we've lost. It's about having had the family, the friends, the comfort and joy; the seven year old inside of us who opens the box under the tree with the gift we REALLY WANTED, and in that moment, combines the joy of anticipation, the joy of possession and most of all, the joy of being KNOWN. Someone knows us as we know ourselves. Our secret wishes matter. Someone sees.

      This Christmas, for the first time, I felt myself lucky in the moment. Nostalgia for the present. YES, things could be better...but maybe happiness- actual happiness, as opposed to the IDEA of happiness-lies in knowing that we are so lucky, in so many ways, every moment. That things CAN'T be better, not in this moment. The best is THIS breath, the best is THIS hug, feeling my beloved Mom's frailty in my arms and knowing she's here NOW.

Maybe Voltaire's fictional "Dr. Pangloss" was right, after all, even if his creator meant him as a satire of fatuous optimism. Maybe Dr. Pangloss has his own revenge, two hundred years later: maybe, as he always said,
    "Everything happens for the best, in tHis best of all possible worlds."