I received two CDs in the mail the other day. One said - Christmas Classics, Various Artists.
It slid smoothly into the player and the familiar sounds of Christmas jingled through the room. I was alone, the walls were bare, the temperature soaring and the refridgerator empty. My walk in the evening the previous day was just as sombre - no lights, no stars, no cribs. It's nearly December 15, and time for that Christmas feeling. That tingly, goosebumpy feeling you get when you want to love everyone and wish them a 'Merry Christmas'. That heart-tightening emotion when you give to someone needy and see a different kind of joy on their faces. That happy new-curtains-and-cushion-covers, family time feeling that you wish you felt all year through.
I could see Frosty running by the traffic cop across the streets with the Jackson 5. I wanted to get up and paint Christmas trees on the walls, make baubles and hang mistletoe and holly from the door-posts and imagine the fridge full of Christmas goodies. There was a longing urge to wrap presents and scribble 'Love, Santa' on handmade cards.
I sat on the floor, closed my eyes and sang out loud to every song I knew. I've never seen fire in a hearth or smelled acorns popping. I've never seen snow or reindeer, or eaten turkey for Christmas dinner. But I imagined it all - the sound of crackling fire, the pop of acorns, the taste of turkey, a belled reindeer and the cuddly warmth of a Christmas hug right after freezing your fingers off while building the snowman.
On my errand that evening, I was fuelled back into a world without stars and trees and cribs. It was a cold world, so 'unChristmasy', and unfestive, an every day world of pollution and chaos. I turned down a back road to avoid getting run over by office-goers. And there through Metallica from my earphones I heard 'Feliz Navidad'. A group of carollers were carolling in a house garden. Passers-by stared as I peeped through the fencing like a street urchin at the store window. The words flew from my mouth and soon I was singing with gusto.
They didn't hear me, they didn't ask me to join in and then come in for a cup of tea. But as I left, hearing the strains fade away with wind, my step was lighter and my mind happier. I couldn't wish for a better time, a time of advent, the Christ-child was coming and we would be together as a family for the best time of the year.
So I'm singing, "I'll be home for Christmas"...