Tonight I found myself truly moved by the Christmas spirit for the first time this season.
It's been a somber December; various matters have conspired to make it difficult for me to look beyond the immediacy of the moment, to experience something broader than right now. I haven't ignored Christmas, but it hasn't become a part of my life the way it used to so many years in the past.
Tonight, though, I put Comic Shop News #1282 to bed and decided this would be a good time to wrap presents for some of my friends who'll be gathering at the store tomorrow evening. And it was the wrapping paper that truly reminded me of the joys of Christmases past.
The red and green striped paper with a gold filigree pattern overlaying the green--I bought that paper at Belk's in Rome in happier times when we had the Horseleg Creek farmhouse, when Mom and Dad were still in active and healthy, when Cole and Jess were younger and filled with that mixture of sullenness and silliness that typifies childhood, when Kim's laugh filled the holiday house at Marchmont, when Dad would sing along with every Christmas song, and when the den of their home was so packed with Christmas gifts and knicknacks and decorations that maneuvering through the room was at times challenging. I wrapped DVD's for Dad in that paper; I gave Mom a replacement remote for her favorite GoVideo dual deck VHS unit, and it was wrapped in that paper.
The blue paper? Kmart paper from the now-defunct Kmart in West Rome. Kim's computer was wrapped in that paper, and I remember the startled look on her face when we gave it to her.
The heavy, extra-wide roll of NOEL paper in burgundy and gold and hunter green? That came from Costco, when Costco was relatively new to Kennesaw; it has wrapped wall clocks and sets of dishes and sheets and so many other oversized gifts over the years... and I can remember the smiles and laughter and "Oh, you shouldn't have," the sincere gratitude and pleasure that makes gift-giving so wonderful.
So many rolls of paper--a few date back more than a quarter century, fragments that go back four houses now, from our Carillon home to our Milstead home to our Horseleg home all the way to Sumit Wood Drive, the first home we ever owned. I remember wrapping gifts in that paper in the vaulted ceiling living room, with starlight visible through the skylight if I turned off the living room lights... or was it the reflection of Christmas tree lights instead? It was starlight in my memory, so starlight it is...
Gift boxes with tags written by loving hands that are ceased writing tags far too soon. Tissue paper used and re-used so many times it is almost limp, but there's still a little more holiday happiness to be drawn from its holiday pastels.
And I remembered all those Christmases, all that happiness that comes with giving a gift that truly means something to the recipient. I remember the fretful days of worrying that the gifts weren't good enough, or there weren't enough of them.
It's the love, not the gift, that we recall most of all.
And those richly colored rolls of paper overwrap more than gifts. They wrap up moments of happiness so intense that they have embedded themselves in the fibers of the paper, and every time I spread a roll of paper on the floor to trim a piece just the right size for a book or a bottle of perfume or a DVD or a framed photograph, the memories are released.
And it's Christmas again... every Christmas... and every loved one is still there. They haven't left--they're just hiding away, waiting to pleasantly surprise me in an unexpected moment.
And I am overwhelmed by the Christmas spirit, and I truly remember what Christmas joy is...