Friday, January 15, 2010

Counting stitches

There’s no knitting today. Instead, I dismantle the Christmas tree. Carefully, I wrap each precious ornament, some colorful glass, some cute little figures in wood, in tissue paper, and lay it gently into the storage box. The tree is more fragrant dry and dead than it was while soft and fresh. A human wouldn’t smell so good untended. Tearing the strings of lights off the stiffened branches isn’t easy, and I struggle hurriedly, because I’m due out for lunch in just 40 minutes. I realize that no matter what pleasure lies ahead, my compulsion to finish what I’m doing controls me. I have to get that last strand off, because after lunch, I won’t want to have this chore to face. Instead, I’ll want to bask. The neighborhood Italian deli is warm and bright. The roasted red pepper in my mortadella and mozzarella sandwich is sweet, like the moment. I am beginning to understand how different I have become. Counting stitches has reminded me how to attend to each moment. And this afternoon, each moment is something to etch into memory. I’m surrounded by quiet kindness. There is coffee, with raw sugar and thick froth that stays on my upper lip. There is the soft blue sleeve of a sweater that I cannot resist the urge to touch. And finally, there is the realization that for the first time since I turned sixteen, I am not saddened by the end of Christmas. The glorious season isn’t ending, but leading to the birth of every new day. Perhaps that is what the story means. Our uncertainty of what awaits us under that star is exactly what draws us forward. Pack up your gifts, and join the journey.

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