I celebrate the gathering of family, the reunion of loved ones. I choose the table cloth, polish the silver and wipe the crystal glasses until they shine. I light the candles and arrange the appetizers in a tempting display. I listen for the doorbell.
I remember an Advent anthem I sang in church choir, years ago. It was called Anticipation, and I cannot find the author or the composer, but the words remind me of the joyous preparation and promise of celebration.
“The sky is black; the dawn is but a promise, and here I wait, impatient for the light. My dearest friend is coming back tomorrow. Anticipation fills the endless night, and soon the sky will fill with golden sunlight. The day will break with joy beyond compare, and I will fly — I will fly — to meet him in the air.”
I look forward to celebrating the return of the sun’s light, to the reunion of parents, children, sisters, brothers and friends. May we all warm the dark nights with laughter and love, good will and good food, and remember our connection and belonging.
This is the last entry from my series of posts two years ago. Not much has changed in my love for my family, except that those “significant otters” have become more formally (and legally) incorporated into the clan and that the arena of family celebration has moved from my duplex to my daughter’s house (and will take place on Saturday). The snow is deep and sparkly here in Milwaukee. Steve was out the door before 6 a.m. to deliver mail and packages for the US Postal Service. Last night, he didn’t come home until 8:30 p.m. The temperature is -2 degrees Fahrenheit (without the wind chill factor) this morning. If you get a mail delivery today, give your carrier a warm smile and your gratitude and appreciation. Remember the free gifts that come to you each day, regardless of season, with no carbon footprint. Live life in gratitude and happiness and peace. The world will benefit.
My December countdown was completed yesterday. I did not have a chance to post about the gift of love because I was living it. My four children plus two “significant otters” came over for feasting and gifting and sleeping over. All six of them ended up on the living room floor under mountains of sleeping bags and pillows and blankets, just like they used to when they were kids in a cousins pile. Except now, they’re all adults — beautiful, interesting, caring, amazing adults who actually like each other. And me. How did I get to be so blessed? This morning, I repaid them all for years of running in and jumping on my king-sized bed full of eager energy at an early hour on Christmas. I dived onto their sleeping bags one at a time and gave them a great big hug and kiss.
We have lived through a lot together. And we have lived through a lot separately. Their lives matter to me in a way that I can barely describe. Steve keeps challenging me to come up with ways to articulate what this is. He has no children, and philosophically wonders why family is esteemed so highly. “Oxytocin,” my daughter replied one day. That explains one level of it, I suppose. My biology has loaded me with hormones that make me love my kids. My religion loaded me with beliefs that urged me to love my kids. My experience of life has loaded me with the joys of loving my kids. And my kids are just plain lovable. I can agree with the reasoning behind his argument that all people are equally valuable, but I just can’t help feeling that my kids are more valuable…to me. Yes, I’m playing favorites shamelessly without really understanding why. Is it possible that evolution favors fiercely loving families? Do they tend to be larger and survive better? This might have negative effects on the planet in terms of population. Would it be better for the world if we were less filial and more agape in our love? Less sentimental and more altruistic?
I don’t think that I am going to do justice to the topic of love in a scholarly way when I am full of mince pie, chocolate, and happy memories of the hours I just spent. I am starting to sink into that melancholy that bubbles up when all of the guests have gone home and you ask yourself if you can be truly happy without that rush of energy and affection. Of course, I am happy and even more peaceful living without all my children still under my roof. I am in love with the world, in love with my partner, and in love with my children every day. And it is marvelous.