The Xmas Angel saved my life again. When I needed to cry, she let me. When she needed to cry, I understood—it’s not easy living so far from her family. That’s why she was sad, along with missing her dear departed mother and dad. I was crying because I remembered my family Christmases and wanted to go back in time with a taser, wild hyenas, and the finest weed in all the land because I’d need it. Five years after she died, my mother’s ashes are in the storage unit, not buried next to Dad in Maryland like I promised. Who would come to see them, anyway? Their generation is all dead—we survivors live in Texas and New Mexico. Why drive all the way across the country to find the mower-nicked flat stones hidden in the grass and wonder where the wasted years have gone?
Oh, I’ll do it, never fear. My grandfather bought a block of cemetery plots to keep us all together in death, or did he get a “deal”? Either way, he meant well and is so remembered. Grandad told me things my father had no time for, showed me pussy-willows in the spring. The plot my father’s in—I buried the urn myself—has room for Helen, too, and once we have a home again, I’ll travel back to Maryland and dig a hole. I don’t hate these people, you understand, I only want to yell at them a little. (I’m old enough to see the blessing of the wound that shows us what we really are.) But times like Christmas, when the internet is filled with people showing off their kids and presents, awash in comforting hubbub of the holidays, are when I should probably be as far away as possible, having Christmas in a quiet cabin in the snow or on a beach where no one else speaks English. Most years, though, I end up where I am and thank God for my angel.
We’ve always done it our way, especially now that so many have passed on. Whether the house is festooned from to end to end with ornaments or minimally adorned, whether we buy cards and gifts for everyone, ourselves, or just remaining family, whether we go anywhere at all or simply have a quiet day for art and music, the time is what we make of it. The theme this year was “New Mexico.” We spent Christmas Eve together talking of the past and wrung out all the sadness. Yesterday on Christmas Day we drove fifteen minutes away to commune with the Rio Grande in the canyon. The scenery was stunning. Bright sunshine and incredible blue water. We saw Canada geese and buffleheads. A very special eagle flew into our lives, a religious experience if ever there was one. The two of us were cleansed in awe and came home high as saints. After the sun went down, we feasted on champagne and steaks, finishing off with cocoa and bizcochitos (the state cookie of New Mexico).
Possibly and most ironically, one of our best Decembers ever.
Oh, and then there’s this: as I was wrapping up this post, my sister-in-law in Minneapolis texted me that her son’s wife had just given birth to a baby girl. Congratulations to Evan and Annie, and welcome to Elnora!