It’s Christmas in New York, and unlike Newfoundland where I grew up, there’s no guarantee of a snowfall or need for a shovel. In Newfoundland it’s always snowing. In New York Christmas is the flashing of neon. It’s a thousand glass windows— thousands of landscapes. It’s blue twinkling lights in the windows of strangers. Lights that border the frame of a window and play Alleluia; or a AA battery single-bulb white plastic taper. It’s a massive tree in a living room window – it reaches the ceiling, a blazing tower of light. It’s the language of light that we’re sharing. It’s street lights and shop lights and lights in a small vestpocket park. Lights of the traffic. It’s a small café and the smell of espresso – the voice of Bing Crosby and Elvis. It’s the memory of a Christmas that I’ll hold in my heart until I take my last dying breath. It’s The Empire State Building in red, silver, and green. Spruce trees on sidewalks and streets smelling like forest. It’s cards from people I haven’t heard from in exactly one year, and it’s a wonderful yearly tradition. It’s church bells, and carols at a concert, sounds of a choir. People singing O Holy Night while the world is coming apart at the seams. It’s hot cider and cookies shaped like spruce trees and reindeer. It’s a walk in the snow–if there’s snow–past shop windows outlined with tinsel and stars. Strands of large colored lights hang from fire escape railing. It’s hundreds of people recreating Martha Stewart’s view of a manger. It used to be Norman Rockwell’s.
It’s a Newfoundland hamlet and a roaring wild ocean. The waves are choppy and the sea has gone wild. Air has the feeling of ice, and cold eats its way to the bone. It’s a soup kitchen anywhere – hundreds of cups, hundreds of chairs, hundreds of glasses for juice. The room smells of home cooking and gravy. It’s a phone call to someone living alone. It’s snowing and the flakes are like feathers. It’s black spruce in a forest and somebody praying. It’s late Christmas Eve, the dead of dark night, and the moon is hanging from an invisible string. Stars are scattered like pinpoints on velvet, none overlapping—each with its own special place in the universe. There’s a key to locating everything up in the sky, but you have to know where to look. You have to understand how sky operates. It’s all the Christmas specials watched every year even tho the stories are known and how they’ll all end. The young destitute couple on Christmas Eve – no money for even a gift. He sells his only possession, a pocket watch family heirloom, and buys jeweled tortoise shell combs for his wife’s beautiful hair. The young wife sells her beautiful hair and buys him the needed gold chain for his watch. Christmas is a walk through a park with a cup of hot chocolate and a pair of new gloves. It’s all the little streets we walked as a child and those little streets were the universe. It’s everything that we are and ever will be. It’s a cup of hot tea and something homemade, and it’s everything in between.