Solitary, Solitude, Single – Conversations with the Ghost of Christmas Present

Ah, ghost of Christmas Present, you are inescapably linked to the Ghost of Christmas Past!  Everything in the past informs the present. Even the peanut butter fudge of the past casts an appearance on the waistline of the present.  And so, precisely because there were melancholy times in the past, I am alone in the Present.

Yet, precisely because there were good times in the Past, I am melancholy in my aloneness. Ghost of Christmas Present, let us linger for a moment over the fabulous times in memory and why they inform the loneliness of the present.  See the children, beautiful, talented, sensitive, intuitive children frolicking in the snow. See them performing in candlelight and on stages; watch as they open a crazy kind of warm winter clothing called cabin cozies in anticipation of acquiring a cabin.  See the giggles and hugs and thank yous received for just the right gift – just the right need met with some thoughtful act on Christmas Eve or Morn.  Ah, Ghost.  Did you even consider that the deep joys of that present would cause the deep yearning of the empty nest?

No.  Because, rightly so, we were present in that moment, not straining ahead to the future. Because I was a big part of that planning and anticipation and acquiring of a cabin, two children now have a quaint little cabin in which to make merry for the holidays, though I am no longer included in that merrymaking. Because I had children early in life, I now have grandchildren- and they are near enough to enjoy weekly.

So, Ghost of Christmas Present, what do I want today? 

  • To be present in my life as it is now
  • To be at peace
  • To be happy

These are not things you merely wait for, cloistered in your room. Admittedly, there are times I have to make myself go out – make myself take my fun like medicine.  To be at peace and to be happy requires large doses of beauty. I needed beauty recently so I made myself go to The Nutcracker.  I took time to dress up and I am glad I did even though nobody dresses anymore. The casting was superb, the dancers exquisite, the music soothing. Have you considered what an advantage it is to go out alone, to the symphony, when there is a single seat available front and center?

There have been other successes this year as well. In daily life, I manage a bookstore / gift store – a most covetable position for a writer, author and people-watcher. Over two separate weeks of vacation, I entered heartily into travel, visiting Zion, Bryce, Mesa Verde, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Hovenweep, Canyon of the Ancients, Black Canyon, and Petroglyph National Parks and Monuments. I slept four nights in my Subaru. I hiked all 46 miles of trails in Colorado National Monument as well as trails in the parks mentioned and numerous trails the length of Western Colorado.  This is good, for there is nothing quite like hiking for keeping me in the present, at peace and happy – unless it is music.

Music continues to engage me in the present as well as bringing peace and happiness.  The public performances have been fewer, the private more numerous. However, the public performances of my three grown children have increased and the young musicians I raise in the present are my grandchildren.

Walk on, weary traveler, in search of truth and beauty. In that way will you find peace and happiness and the ability to be present in your life as it is now.






Look at the Lights! The Ghost of Christmas Past, part II

The Ghost of Christmas Past accosted me without warning again the other night as I was leaving my parent’s house. Sure enough, the Christmas lights are up- – a little lower this year so Dad didn’t have to teeter precariously on the ladder.  My parents are in their 80s.

Ah, the lights.  They play a part in nearly every Christmas memory, don’t they?  When I was very young and we lived in the old house next door, the lights were important to both Mom and Grandma. Back then we had one ancient string that went dark each time one bulb went out. Those worthy matriarchs got rid of it and the next success was actually placing the colored bulbs in a pattern.  It was important to my mom to have them arranged just right – the same importance as choosing a symmetrical tree.

One year Grandma got electric candles to put in the window, not the standard group of three, but a special grouping of seven – in her thinking, the perfect number. I never did quite understand the blue bulbs for flames, but blue was the fashionable color that year-and for a decade thereafter until the bulbs finally burned out.  We children would start looking for the lights the minute we crested the 12th Street hill.  Lights in the window meant Grandma was home.

When we moved to the new house, a string or two of lights went with us. It took several years, but finally my folks had a strand long enough to border the entire roof.  Multi-colored lights on the tree cast a warm and romantic glow.  Is it the tree, the lights or the warm romantic glow that figures into memories of courtships and beaux?  Dear to memory are the morning conversations and guessing games with my little brother, late evening hot chocolate and fudge and sharing our fondest wish lists – all of which took place in the warmth of Christmas Lights.

Lights.  Music. They may be a bit out-of-date and shabby, but when the Ghost of Christmas past takes you by the hand unbidden and escorts you down memory lane, what warm and sentimental scenes do you revisit?  Look at the Lights


Dear Ghost of Christmas Past

Dear Ghost of Christmas Past,

I know you so well. I know that you love pecans and peanut butter fudge and reading good books while sitting by a wood fire.  I love the way your eyes brighten and you look your best, invigorated and alive, in the great out-of-doors; snow covering your boots, up to your calves, even your knees. We have a lot of history. We have made beautiful music together haven’t we, Ghost?  Christmas after Christmas, pleasant harmonies with two or four or twelve or 56.  Yes, Ghost of Christmas Past, I remember producing, costuming, directing, acting in holiday theatre.  What about the years as parade announcer, narrator?  And oh!  Remember the events? Sitting in the audience for Disney on Ice, The Nutcracker, The Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the spectacular Colorado Children’s Chorale. Remember the Conifer High School Marching Band freezing before the parade and marching gingerly over the ice so as not to fall and dent shiny tubas, mellophones and flags? And before that, remember a blond-haired 13-year-old standing in a tux and spotlight on the stage at Boettcher Concert Hall soloing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I had almost forgotten.  Thank you, thank you, Ghost of Christmas Past for this journey down memory lane. There have been lean years and one or two fat years. I have loved the finding and giving just the right gift and hated the stress of being unable to find the right gift; chafed at the loneliness of buying my own gift after I got over the self-pity of not having any gifts at all; hated not being able to afford the right gift for the right people or wood for the warmth of growing children. As I said, we have a lot of history. And then, there were the tears; seasons of parting and temporary good-byes that turned out to be permanent. But the tears I remember most are the tears of surprised joy. Remember that year?  The year I learned it was possible to cry from overwhelming love and beauty?  I was thirteen and feeling displaced in so many ways. Poorer than usual, I steeled myself for an empty Christmas.  I expected nothing. And then someone gifted me a small piece of costume jewelry – a rhinestone pin in the shape of a trumpet and I was undone.  As if the gift was not enough, we were hustled about to put on our coats and hop in the car. Tickets. Tickets to the Ice Capades. That Christmas exceeded my wildest dreams.  Why?  Because someone, there in my universe, knew me so well. You know me, Ghost of Christmas Past, as well as I know you. But I cannot live there in the past, and that too I know so well.

The Dickens Carolers somewhere around the late 90s
The Dickens Carolers somewhere around the late 90s