A few years before my father passed away, when he was struggling through a day to day existence, (much like when he was a P.O.W.) my mother could see over the precipice. The days were growing short. The reality of finding herself without him mocked her like the jester of death pointing his bony finger signaling towards the grave.
I offered to walk to church with her on a dark and moonless night on Christmas Eve. Snow danced through the air trying to stay aloft fearing that once they touched solid ground they too would be no more. The children, at least those that were left in the ever dwindling congregation, marked the occasion with skits and song. At the evenings conclusion, the children passed out tangerines and candy canes and sent us on our way. On our walk home, I tried to speak to my mother about God. About grace, as I understood it. It was a very cerebral conversation on my part, hoping to elicit some dialog regarding life, death, suffering and God's love for mankind. For wasn't this what Christmas is all about?
Glad tidings? Peace on earth? A savior is born?
I wanted to talk about GOD.
My mother was a born and bred New England farm girl Baptist. Her spiritual thoughts consisted of getting up each and every day and making the most of it. Her emotional range was methodical, deliberate and well contained. Perhaps these were thoughts that parents did not share with their children. Perhaps these were thoughts that you only had on Sundays. I'll never know. But now days I think of her silently observing Christmas in her stoic and silent way. Singing hymns, cooking dinner, decorating the tree.
These days, I see an excitement in my granddaughter that thrills me. I do not recall me ever having that sort of excitement - ever! At Christmas, the song and feast, gifts and pageantry of it all, makes two slits of her eyes as her smile and looks of glee envelops her face.
I no longer need to talk of GOD.
I just watch her.