Thursday, December 25, 2008

The most meandering Merry Christmas wish you've ever received

Last Friday I was running an errand on my lunch hour in the rain, except to say that I was in the rain is a misnomer because I was dry in the bubble of my car, watching the rain hit the windshield, watching the drops splat above me on the sunroof. The item I had picked up, a print I had left at the framer’s, was safely wrapped and dry. It was a sock-soaking rain for those women I could see puddle-jumping to the shelter of a bus stop. It was a hydroplaning rain for the cars I could see on the diesel- and unleaded caterpillar beneath me, the Beltway. It was just a distraction for me, bubbled as I was, forced by a stoplight to stop. To look.

Cold and rainy. Blurgh. Better, though, than the foot of snow my brother said he was expecting up his bit of that northeast corridor.

Up, I saw just gray, and splat splat splat. I have always thought that sunroofs are wasted on the sun. They are best for cloudless nights and rainy days.

Left, I saw the rolling green acres of the USDA farm labs. A steady rain looks to be in the right place on top of fields of grass. Whatever grows on those hills, I thought, was well nourished today.

Right, I saw an old brick building. A shallow door stoop. A person (man?) partially obscured, resting (sleeping?) (living?) in the doorway. His roof was borrowed from another failed empire a half mile down: a tall, narrow sign of the sort somebody is paid minimum wage to stand in numbing precipitation and wave at the eyes of pre-Christmas shopping motorists. Store Closing / Everything Must Go / Fixtures / Liquidation Prices. A driving rain on a particle board roof-replacement just looks cruel. Whomever crouched under that sign, I thought…and with my thought left unfinished, I felt only sadness and dismay.

I couldn’t reach him from a middle lane of a six lane road. And the light was about to turn green. And really, I didn’t know if he needed anything. And the only food item I had was actually a drink, in a glass bottle. Can’t chuck that across two lanes of cars. And I didn’t know if he’d want it. And I didn’t know if he was awake to notice the gesture. And really, I didn’t know if he was a he. In that moment, I didn't know anything right about anything.

But there I was warm and dry on my mediocre errand on a blah but really-nothing-to-complain-about day, and rain that looks bucolic, even hopeful, on the verdant test fields looks so disheartening on the plastic-wrapped feet of the person taking shelter behind another sign of the failing economy.

So the least I could do was resolve not to make such a mountain out of my blah-day molehill. I finished my dangled thought with an eye-squeezing hope for his luck to turn around. I finished my work. I collected my girls, went home and reunited us with their daddy, and hung my new print in its intended place on our kitchen wall. And that’s how I started our weekend: the four of us together, warm and dry in our comfy-if-crazed house.

How fitting:

And just what I need to see each morning to keep me bobbing above the less than euphoric zeitgeist.

Straight to the point has never been my strong suit but just as I was reminded in such a visible way last week to count my blessings, I’d like to wish all my Christmas-celebrating friends and readers (!) a wonderful day filled with blessings so numerous that they pile, as my elder daughter would say of the biggest infinities she can comprehend, all the way to the ceiling.
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