Christmas 2017

I walk almost every morning, a mile or so. I used to run but that was back in days of lore.  It’s December. And it’s almost Christmas. There’s actually snow on the ground–a little–not enough to hinder my walk. It’s not too cold. This morning I put on my red raincoat and a scarf and started out.

In my town there’s an amalgamation of decorations for Christmas–not the all-inclusive “holidays” by the looks of it–not a blue light, menorah, solstice, Kwanza token in sight. It’s definitely “Christmas”, for sure.

There’s the Victorian houses with real cedar garland around the doors, draping the porch rails, and flood lights strategically placed to show off the wreaths in every window. Next door to me is one such house and on the other side of me there’s the inflatable Snoopy Dog and snowman.

There are sidewalks lined with erect candy canes, leading to front doors, some lit with red lights, others plain–well as plain as a candy cane can possibly be since it is, after all, red and white. There’s the houses with every window, gutter and roof line aglow in lights–some multi-color, others simple white-lights. Hmm. Did I say simple? Well, not so simple, actually.

The businesses have wreaths on every door. In the furniture store window there is a large, obviously fake Christmas tree. (I remember it from last year). The crepe myrtle trees that line the streets are strung with white lights and each lamp-post holds a wreath with a red bow. At the end of the block, in the park, there’s a huge lit Christmas tree, three-stories high.  

In town there are six churches within the same number of blocks. Each is decked out for Christmas.  The Presbyterians have a Nativity scene. Mary and Joseph are made of wood.  I believe the artist who painted the cutouts was male. There’s something about the brush strokes and shadows, the shape of the hands that scream “male”. But that’s not fair, is it? Really? Anyway, neither Mary or Joseph are looking at the baby in the manger. Joseph’s staring off in space. Mary has her head turned away. The baby Jesus is a baby doll. It’s poor little head is bald and not covered. The rest of the body is swaddled, cozy in the wooden manger.

The Pentecostal Church also has a Nativity Scene–nothing elaborate–just three-foot high wooden cutouts stuck into the lawn, no barn, no straw, no manger, no baby doll–just painted, wooden figures: Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. Mary is looking at the baby but Joseph who is holding a shepherd’s staff (that’s odd, he wasn’t a shepherd was he?) is looking doubtful as though he’s saying “humph”. It made me smile.

If one were turned off by Christmas, disappointed with Christmases past, let’s say,  it could be a downer, even disturbing to walk through this town. But for me, I’ve made peace with Christmases past. So I’m good.

I stopped to admire some glass balls hung from bare tree branches. In one there was a little object inside. I looked closer. Was it a bird? A red bird? A leaf reflecting from the path? (I need new glasses.) I stepped closer, and behold it was me–in my red raincoat inside the Christmas ball, smiling and aglow.

© Glenda Kotchish

December 2017