Tuesday, December 25, 2012

One Very Early Christmas Morning

No St. Nick's. No mouse. No presents under a tree. Not even a tree. This is what life is like at 3AM on Christmas morning for a Jewish insomniac.

But what if Santa did come down my chimney this year? What if he made a wrong turn and ended up in a living room where there were no stockings hanging or yule logs, only a fireplace that came alive with a flip of a switch?

I stare out the window searching in vain for the snow that refuses to fall. There is nothing quite as depressing as  the sight of brown grass in late December. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot something. It is indistinct and momentary, and by the time I turn my full gaze and attention in its direction,  it is gone. My focus is soon back on this screen.

It must be a difficult task trying to separate the naughty from the nice. Although I am way past the age to consider myself a child, my mom is still alive. So, at the least in the most technical of senses, I am still a child, somebody's child. In reviewing my past 364 days, I know I could be placed on either list. I pity Santa and his helpers their decisions.

It is a cloudy night and the sky does not offer any illumination. The street lights are partially obscured by the large trees that dominate the yard outside. Still no sign of snow, but my vision is limited and maybe I am missing something. I squint a little harder and stare a second longer. In the dimness, I spot it again. Something is definitely out of place in this picture. Whatever it is moves swiftly past.

Does the mind control the eyes? Can we imagine a reality that doesn't exist and never did? Or does our vision tell us things that years of living try to shut out?

It is now after 4AM and the light of day will be upon us soon. It remains quiet and I begin to think that I just need to get back into bed. If I can shut my eyes and wake to familiar sights, I will consider all of this but a very strange dream.

Then comes the bark. My daughter has arrived with her dog for the weekend. From the upstairs bedroom,  I hear it again. "Go back to sleep. It's nothing, go back to sleep. No one's there." My daughter implores her pet not to wake the others.

I have watched parts of two of my favorite movies this past evening: "Miracle on 34th Street" and "It's A Wonderful Life". I am now entering my seventh decade and yet I am still inexorably drawn to these films, year after year, tear after tear. In fact, as I age I think my admiration for Clarence only grows.

Are there such things as miracles? Is the fact that Mick Jagger is still alive and still peacocking around at his age a miracle? How about a black President in the United States? What if our minds were unlocked and could soar? Would we all see Santa in the night sky?

I have been distracted by the screen in front of me for far too long. I am much too tired for my own good. One of these days I will pay the price for all these way too frequent half sleeps. I have to put thoughts of reindeer and red suits away. As much as Santa needs his rest, so do I.

As I leave the study and head up the stairs, I spot something by the fireplace. It is a handwritten note on nothing more than a scrap of paper. I am obsessively, compulsively straightening up and this is definitely not in its proper place.  I look at the message. It reads as follows:

"Dear Robert:

Thanks so much for thinking of me. Yes, everyone is and will always be a child in my eyes. And yes, everyone who has been good deserves some special cheer this day. And you, my friend, have made the list this year.

It is a pretty wondrous occurrence about Mr. Obama. And, no, even I have no explanation for Mick Jagger. There must be a higher power at work. But that is another story, for another day and I am unfortunately a little too busy right now to sit down and chat. Give me a call next week when everything calms down, and we can discuss the questions that concern you.

Your friend now and forever, Santa"

The first light of day is now coming up. I look out the window hoping to catch a glimpse of an image streaking across the sky. I see nothing, yet a broad smile suddenly emerges. It is the present I wanted above all others today.  It is snowing.

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