CHRISTMAS DAY…. Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 – Oh Christmas Tree!
This year, Christmas was different. We had sold our house, Vincent wasn’t coming home for a second year, and, back in the summer, mom and dad had said they were “done with CT at Christmas time”. Of course, they were not quite “done” and they came for an early Christmas from Dec. 12 – 19th, but by then Vinnie and I had decided to spend Christmas in South Carolina! We drove down on the 23rd. Vincent met us at Mom and Dad’s for a couple of days and I announced that since I was in South Carolina for Christmas, I would have to spend it walking the beach at Hilton Head.
On Dec. 24th, Vincent was the only one who opened gifts on Christmas Eve morning at the breakfast table. That was different! Mom, Dad, Vinnie, Vincent, and I went to 4pm Mass on Christmas Eve in a local high school gymnasium. That was different! The priest saying mass was a visiting missionary priest who has spent most of his life in Africa. After the mass, I bought a set of beautiful beaded rosary beads hand-made by African women. That was different! And then Vincent left by 7am on Christmas morning for his 5 hour drive back to North Carolina since he had to work at 2pm. Mom, Dad, Vinnie and I had a quiet Christmas Day to look ahead to. That was very different!
So, on Christmas morning, the four of us got in the car and drove to Hilton Head. Three of us would walk the ocean beach for a couple of hours while one of us would spend that time reading a book while sharing a swinging park bench with a Korean lady (Guess who that was!)
About 20 minutes into our walk, we found our Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!! As it lay flat out at the ocean’s edge, the palm leaves floated in the waves that came and went. Its roots and entire trunk stretched across the sandy shore. Perhaps a hundred or more people had stepped over it on that beautiful Christmas morning.
As we walked, it was simply amazing to me that the beach was filled with hundreds of people. These people passed us by on bikes or on foot saying “Merry Christmas” to us and to each other. There was a light, cheeriness in each interaction. Some people were throwing balls to running dogs or chasing children who were chasing seagulls. Others traced words in the wet sand with long sticks, while others tip-toed across the low tide to walk along the sandbar. The sunlight created a blinding shimmering light that seemed to stretch out for miles to the horizon.
My thoughts were pretty simple. I wished everyone I loved was with us walking along that beach to enjoy the stress-free nature that surrounded us. The ocean coming and going, just like the people, and just like the previous 365 days since Christmas of 2016. Vinnie and I acknowledged the fact that this year, Christmas of 2017 was indeed different, not bad yet, not necessarily better; just simply different.
And in that difference, we found it was also intentionally peaceful.
Wishing everyone a peaceful and happy and healthy 2018!