in white as the darkness falls over St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s been a rainy day, warmer than usual and the ground is still soft without a blanket of snow. There’s a warmth in the house, a warmth of electric lights, an occasional burst from the furnace, and the sense of being in the same comfortable place where you’ve spent more than twenty years.
In these days preceding Christmas there is both a kind of busy rush and moments of quiet that dance with each other throughout the day. In the quiet moments I’m visited, like clockwork, by people and memories from the distant pass. Friends from school. People I’ve loved who’ve gone to be with God. Moments in time and memories of Christmas past. Each is a little pause in the rush of time. Each is a little gift. Each becomes very special and present and alive this time of year like welcome visitors from a long journey.
I hope the friends who have walked with me for whatever time are being blessed in this season. I hope they have food enough, warmth enough, and people who love them in abundance. I pray that those who are with God have found the promised rest and never grow in that place where time means nothing in the light of eternity. I hold on to the memories as a kind of nourishment, food for the journey home.
And now my mind wanders back to my grandmother, my mother’s mother and the only grandmother I ever knew. I remember her kind face, the house she shared with my grandfather, and the gifts that would make their way north like clockwork about this time of year.
They were slippers, hand knit and always just the right size. They came from Florida or later Arkansas where my grandparents spent the winter. I don’t necessarily remember the colors but they were always done with a kind of art that only comes from a person who really knows how, and likes, to knit. One pair each, and all of us boys got them every year. They were warm and most of all they were great for getting a running start and sliding across any smooth surface. Mostly I think we wore them out about spring time and so we needed new every Christmas. More than just something to wear they were a kind of reminder that we had people out there, far away, thinking about us and sending something special, something they made themselves, as a reminder.
My grandmother died in 1982. Has it really been that long? Sometimes when people ask me to share a favorite memory of the Christmas season I remember and talk about those slippers and how much I miss her and how much I wish I could get just one more pair for Christmas. There’s a sadness to that, but a joy as well because when I recall it’s if as the years have vanished and I am somewhere back there and we are not that far apart after all.
And there is peace.