Believe

Long ago, I stood at the window, my small fingers crossed. I prayed for snow to fall. A child who believed that with some divine intervention, she could will the fluffy flakes to float from the heavens above.
My hand lifted the iron latch, pushed the window open a crack. I leaned into the space. Cold air kissed my cheek. Stillness lingered and paused within the eerie morning’s quiet breaths. Tall, gnarly branches of oak canopied the street. The oaks waited too. Waited for snow to dress them in winter finery.
A voice broke through the silence.
“Hurry up girls,” our mother commanded, “We’re leaving in thirty minutes!”
Time meant nothing to me then. Yet, this morning I had reason to dash.
Mother was taking us to see the annual Christmas displays. I recalled the twinkling lights and little elves dressed in red and green that bustled about Santa’s miniature village. It was the reindeer I coveted. How do they fly?
“It’s magic,” our mother said.
Quickly my sister and I ran to the hall cupboard, opened it and grabbed our newly sewn velvet coats.
“Where’s my fur hat?” I asked.
Scrambling through the corners of the dark hall cupboard, I retrieved the faux fur hidden beneath my father’s plaid scarf. The hat was a gift; the muffler disappeared at school.
“Found it!” I cried out.
I watched my sister; her small fingers struggled to slip the shiny buttons through the stitched openings.

Gently,I took her hand and showed her how. We slipped stocking feet into fur-lined rubber boots, momentarily teetering, off-balance from the weight of our outerwear. My sister and I stood in the doorway; two winter snow-babies waiting for snowflakes to tumble.
Our mother, wrapped in Persian lamb, led the way as we headed toward the bus stop at the end of the block. As we waited for the 41st Street bus to appear, I looked up and peeked through the canopy of tangled branches that crisscrossed overhead. An empty nest sat tucked within a nook of hardwood. I wondered if Santa would leave a small gift for the birds to open when they returned in the spring. Perhaps a pine cone adorned with a strand of tinsel snagged from a glittering cast off Christmas tree.
The bus rolled up to the curb, we clambered on board, dropped our coins into the cash slot and took our seats.
“Hold on, Grace,” my mother tipped her head toward the shiny pole. As the bus lurched forward, my fingers held the metal pole, the other hand wrapped around my sister’s small one.
We watched as passengers came and went about the business of life. Near the end of the line, a dapper man stepped aboard. He wore a top hat and wrinkled pin stripe suit.
“Ladies,” he nodded and tipped his hat.
In one hand, he held a scuffed leather briefcase; in the other he held a bouquet of bud roses, white as fallen snow.
A second man stepped aboard; the white whiskers on his chin visible. His threadbare overcoat patched at the elbows. A red scarf scrunched about his neck. As he passed by I caught the acrid, heavy scent of cigarettes. Golden fingertips gripped the metal pole. When he smiled at us, there were dark spaces where teeth should have been. I looked away.
It seemed to take forever to reach our destination. As we rose to exit the bus, the man with the whiskers spoke,
“Merry Christmas,” he said and reached into his deep pocket, pulled out two wrapped candy canes, and grinned a toothless smile. My sister and I hesitated. The man smiled and reached deep into the other pocket and pulled out a plastic angel. Golden wings glinted and gleamed.
“This you must share,” he murmured. He reached out and handed the angel to me.
“Say thank you, girls,” our mother said.
“Thank you,” we whispered.
He nodded, “Merry Christmas, children. Don’t ever forget that once someone did something kind for you”
I gingerly stepped from the bus, a candy cane clutched within one small fist; a sugared angel twinkled in the other. How would I manage to share such a treasure?
Once again my mother took the lead and hustled us along to the Christmas displays. The miniature Winter Town hummed and bustled, alive with visions and sound. Holiday songs punctuated the scene. Candlelight shone through a small window as an elf stationed at a workbench hammered wheels onto a train. Another elf stood alongside and wrapped a gift. He placed it atop the growing pile of presents from Santa.
Bells jingled and lights twinkled, snow blew from a machine and dusted our boots. It was the reindeer I had come to see. They lay upon hay; their thick whitish coats brushed and glossed, their velvet antlers strong and upright. At the peak of the stable hung an angel, a heavenly guardian hovered overhead.
We heard the sleigh bells jangle and the familiar chortle of Santa’s low voice as he boomed,
“Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!”
Who wouldn’t believe in wishes that come true, magic, heavenly beings and a hope for snow?
***
That was a beautiful moment so long ago. The wondering child rarely surfaces anymore; the woman is grown. Time is fleeting now; it rushes by her. She remembers the man on the bus; recalls his curious words,
“Don’t ever forget that once someone did something kind for you.”
Grace still doesn’t understand human nature; choosing to believe in goodness. She understands the science behind snow, the necessary ingredients of weather systems. Still, every December she pauses at the window, opens it just a crack. She leans in toward the opening and waits. For what you ask? For the cold wind to kiss her cheek, for those first flakes to fall, for that magical feeling of love to wrap itself around her, for an act of compassion or a kindness shared, for Santa to arrive, and for peace on earth. Believe.
IMG_1907

Hello, December!

The crisp December chill slaps my cheeks as I pause to take in the scenery outside the door.  There is a reason that I love December so.  It is not for the cold, although it forces my senses to attention, rather, it is the warmth, from the ever-burning fire of December, that captures my heart.

The rains have ceased and the frost of winter has arrived. The earth sparkles and shimmers.  Sunlight from above, kisses the ground below. The sight, breath taking and miraculous. The cold heightens focus, my senses suggesting, take another look. There is beauty in the world.  

A close friend texts, “Where are you?  Join us for coffee.” The mall is busy, yet I seek company.  Somehow, coffee tastes better with friends.  We sit, two generations of women, sharing stories from life.  Their company soothes my weariness and I wish to stay near, savouring the warmth and comfort between sips. What would life be without these friends?  Love and gratitude are sent forth into the universe.

The mall is beginning to fill with people. Young and old shoppers, bustle about.  Strangers to one another. Yet, people pause a moment to smile, hold doors for another, share a comment over the clamouring crowd.  The red suit, a symbol of Christmas, comes into view.  Children stand spell-bound, patiently waiting, in a never-ending line, for a moment, one enchanting moment with, Santa Claus.  The wish to receive that special gift is whispered into Santa’s ear.  A chance that their wishes will come true.  For who does not hear the whispered words of one so innocent to the realities of life.  We never forget this moment.  Did Santa listen?  Hope and love are sent forth into the universe.

Does the magic of the holiday season make us kinder to one another?  Or is it that we remember that moment of youth, when we knew hope and it filled our hearts.  When we whispered our wishes in Santa’s ear and they traveled on the wind to a starlit kingdom far, far away.  Perhaps, human nature wishes for hope and love, and when we lose our way, like a compass, these gifts return to us, setting us right back on course. Forgiveness and compassion are sent forth into the universe.

For these reasons, December is my favourite month.  The twinkling white lights, the allure of gold and silver ornaments, the candle’s light, and the everlasting love that shines forth from mankind.  For a moment in time, stand transfixed by a beautiful world.  The wonder of fairy tale possibilities surround us as the silent snowflakes tumble.

Gently shake the glass snow globe and place it on top of the table.  Watch the snowflakes fall. Remember the good, remember the love.  Pray for peace and show compassion toward one another.

Snow baby
Snow baby