Christmas was being newly married. So cold outside and us, giggling at every little thing, baking cinnamon rolls because we were married now and we could bake anything we wanted together; we could do anything we wanted together. The whole wide world was ours. Telling everyone, even the cashier at Sam's club, that we were just married-two weeks ago! She laughed. "What in the world are y'all doing outside, then?"
Christmas is books, old ones, the heavy kind you open on your lap in one easy flop. Anna Karenina. Little Women. Books about snow.
Christmas is Queen songs, that one year Dad got Mom the two-disc Queen CD and I became obsessed with this weird band I'd never heard of, playing them over and over for the better part of my fourteenth year. "Can't Anybody Find Me Somebody to Love"- a Christmas song, to me.
Christmas is that year I had my first job at the coffee shop, a shy teenage girl who didn't even know what a latte was. But determined, so determined, to like coffee because that's what Writers did, or so I imagined. They drank pots and pots of coffee, and darn it, if I was going to be a writer, I'd better drink it too. Sugar, creamer, milk, I hated it all. And then that black cup of halenzunt coffee, our flavor of the day, drank slowly when the shop was quiet and the Christmas lights winked at me from outside. I drank it until closing time and on the cold drive home and it kept my hands warm as I stopped to get gas. It was love. And now I sit in Panera sometimes and wonder why I like that hazelnut stuff so much when I usually hate flavored coffee. But, that's right, it's because of that Christmas, the year I fell in love with coffee.
Christmas is writing the first pages of awful, awful novels every year not because I had a worthy idea, but just to have a place to pour out all this magic inside me. And the writing was terrible, but the act of writing, the unselfconscious way that only kids can write, was like pouring glitter on the page. Sparkly joy.
Christmas is when I was twelve and somehow I knew that I would never again be a kid, that things were different now and that the year before was the last time I would ever get dolls and stuffed animals. I'd seen the angel put on the tree, seen the same ornaments put in the same place, heard that same old story about that night in Bethlehem. The magic was over, things wouldn't be the same anymore. We drove home from the Christmas Eve service at church, and I shyly shared my thoughts with my parents, that I had a sinking feeling I was Growing Up. And we got home late that cold night and, as I walked towards the stairs to bed, I saw it right outside the kitchen window, slow and quiet: snow. Snow on Christmas Eve, something I thought only happened in movies. And it was real again; mystery, miracles, God in a manger. I didn't realize it, but I quietly chose to cling fiercely to wonder. And what is Christmas, what is life, without wonder.