In The Holiday Spirit

I’ll never forget when I was given a gift of the spirit. It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, both of which fall in this month of magic, but Thanksgiving Day when my aunt decided that it was time this jewelry, so treasured by my grandmother, made its way to me. As I cracked open the hinges and peeked inside, my grandmother’s face flashed before my eyes, and in my vision I saw her with the deep red garnet heart-shaped locket around her neck, the matching earrings dangling against her dark brown curls. She’s been gone for years now, but her spirit stays here with me every day. And in this moment of gratitude, of passing love from one to another, she was smiling.

I’d rather forget the time I received phone calls in the middle of the night – the ones that gently announced the passings of spirits. My grandfather died decades ago one November night; it seems as if I’d just drifted off to sleep in my future husband’s college apartment when I was summoned to go back to his house and comfort my grandmother. Those types of calls, the ones that jolt you out of bed and shatter your world, are at once impossible to dismiss and yet impossibly etched in our minds. She had the pendant on when I arrived that night; his spirit, his photo, fastened to the back of her garnet locket, stays with me. He was smiling, too.

holiday spirit

During the holidays, I usher in the day in the same way from beginning to end: Christmas tree lit, white mantle lights glowing, candle flickering, and I write. I listen for inspiration, for the spirits to remind me that this, here, now, is what the season is about. I know that as soon as the sun rises behind the heavy garnet colored curtains the moment is lost, the magic is put on hold until I return at dusk, and the busyness of everyday life will be upon me.

Today, as the rain pours down the windowpane and the wind whips the trees around my house into a frenzy, I breathe, and pause, and think of them. I remember their love for each other, and for their families. I call in their spirits as my pen scratches gratitudes into my journal, filling the pages with small moments of the extraordinary ordinariness of my life, feeling their love, grateful for 50 years with their spirits by my side.

50 years

The sun will be up soon, my teaching day will begin, but in a dozen hours you can find me, back here in my front room, surrounded by spirits and lights and love.

It’s a gift I’ve learned to give myself; the gift of the holiday spirit, feeling present right here, right now, and remembering all that brings love and comfort and beauty to my life. Today, her pendant will hang softly against my chest. holding their love and spirit, and I will be grateful.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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His laugh, low and husky, always makes me smile.  Not a man to rush, he enjoys the moments of his life, no matter how big or small.  ‘Things have a way of working themselves out,” he always tells me.

For a little northern California girl, Los Angeles is a city of magic.  PSA shuttles me to Burbank during the summer, never disappointing my expectations.  The burgundy Buick feels slow and safe, just what a small granddaughter needs to feel welcomed in the big city.  The short drive to Sherman Oaks holds the anticipation of Christmas morning at the end of the road.  Down one endless avenue to the next, right up to the little yellow house.  His strong hand reaches for mine across the beige upholstery.

The radio in the front bedroom quietly broadcasts the latest news as Nanook the Husky softly nuzzles my welcome.  Push up pops appear from the freezer.  The bullfighter still graces the bedroom wall.  Joan of Arc gazes from her perch.  The bean bag offers a nest to sink into.

He slows down with time, his feet shuffling down the street and heavy on the pedal.  My turn to drive now.  Eyeglasses no longer slip from their case tucked into his breast pocket.  My turn to read aloud the news.  Clarence Thomas on the front page evokes his sense of morality, long honed through years in the legal profession.  His hands strong, skin thin, grasp mine gently across the kitchen table.  I settle into the moss green upholstery, trying to plant myself in the moments I know are few to come.  The clock talks to him now, announcing the loss of minutes left to spend together.  “Go, Abuela, I’ll stay here,”  I urge, clamoring for another precious moment.
Later that night, strains of ‘Gone With The Wind’ float through the apartment.  The phone rings in the dark.  ‘Please come,’  the voice pleads.  ‘He’s gone.’

We arrive in the darkness.  More stoic unsettled, she draws the long silver Cartagena scissors to tenderly snip a lock of his hair.  So still.  The tears flow silently, slowly.

His hands clasp in tranquility.  I slump to his side, tenderly kiss his cheek.  No rush now. He has enjoyed the moments of his life.  I savor this last one we spend together.  Somehow, I know things have a way of working themselves out.

EC Writes

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

More Posts - Website

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