Monday, December 12, 2011

Blue Collar Christmas Love Letter

Dear Mr. Curry,

I am driving. I stop at a red light, and to my right is a Christmas tree lot, surrounded with white twinkling lights and populated with a few straggling couples and families, making shapes and measuring with their hands, cold in the December evening air. I watch their breath go in and out. The wind blows in gusts across the tops of the palms and the firs, and Christmas music plays from our local radio station " Christmas Music Around the Clock ", the tagline. The sky is silver and blue and white, and a small flock of common birds move up and down in formation over cars. We have to move, and we have little money. You lost your business years ago, and it still hurts you. It hurts you that you lost something you fought and worked so hard for, because you wanted to give it to your family, like a gift in hand. You wanted to take care of us, like all good men want to do. You want to protect our children, and I want to protect our children. We want them to have dental work, and tutors so that they can catch up in subjects that are difficult, so that they can get good grades, so that they can get scholarships and go to colleges and grow up to be able to pay for good dental work. We want them to have health insurance that doesn't break the bones of our family budget, we want them to thrive. The Kaiser ads: THRIVE. We count the four beautiful heads of our children, and each Kaiser ad that demands they thrive but omits the cost, $200. each head.  We want to protect ourselves, too, from the weight and stress and fears that keep us awake at night; but we will not move our children from here, from this town, where they have the best schools and the safest neighborhoods and most importantly and significantly, Grandma and Grandpa and Grandma. Those older and kinder and doting faces of the family that loves them, that watches them in hourly timed increments from the time they are in size 2 diapers and cut their first teeth.  We will, at almost any cost, find a way to stay here. Your business, my faulty hormones and three surgeries, medical debt, and choices we made and didn't make, long ago- here we are, with so little.  We might argue about the cost of Christmas presents, or who will make dinner, or the lights left on, we are moving in less than a month and don't know where we are going or what will happen, we might be dancing around each other, or screaming silently, or holding our breath in separate rooms. Lola chips a tooth. As I hold her and look at your face over her sobbing, I know we are both thinking about that dental bill. We might fight about it all until each of us has torn down everything best in the other. We could, but we don't.

The sky darkens while I wait for the light to change and in the back of my mind, behind the music and the bells, and inside the shadows that fall across my swollen hands on the cold steering wheel, I hear Ever's cry. She is with my mom, but I can hear her, miles away. I'm coming, I think. 

And that's it. That's all, I just think this one thought, and I am filled with joy. It hits me with a force as palpable as your hands raising Lola higher, higher, higher to see Santa walking the line last night, that I am blessed beyond all measure, that I am in fact, filled with abundance.  You and I, honey, are always there for our children, and they know in their filament and molecule, that they are safe, and loved inside our family. Abudance. Our children are with us. they are safe, they are healthy, they believe in our eventual ability to solve all problems, even the older ones!-  and the more we rise to the occasion, every time we find a way, every time we love gracefully, every apology, every moment that could have been lost but is instead embraced, we become stronger, and more of a pack. Our pack is together. This is the meaning of the holidays. We say words that are gold emellishments on greeting cards we send other people and we forget their absolute integrity, power and truth. Peace and love are not a greeting card, or a present, or a diamond ring, or even, my sweetheart, a big house in the suburbs. 

Peace and love are our two daughters watching Christmas carolers last night, in the park of our town, surrounded by other families, cold faces and hands, coffee, hot chocolate, lights, lights, and music. Peace and love are the two, three, no four times we ran into people we know and care for who care for us, and greeted with smiles and hugs. Peace and love are Ever's face watching Santa for the very first time. Peace and love is our family all together Friday night, stuffed onto couches, watching a movie and laughing and then crying and then laughing because we are all crying. Peace and love is the tickle war between our kids that ended with a chipped tooth. Peace and love is your body on mine our couch late last night, next to the Christmas tree, after rum and eggnog, while our girls slept. It is Lola's faith You and Daddy always make everything good, it Dakota's choice to be with us, at 17, on a Saturday night instead of with friends, it is our family bed, it is our inside jokes about poop ( Lola calls them butt guts! ) and the tender words we all write on cards for birthdays. It is our family chore day, it is our constant refrain to be kind, to be honest even- especially- when it's hard, to think of the group and not just yourself, to give, to pray even if maybe faith is short or prayers feel silly, it is the small- Lola's love notes for us- and the large- Ian's special birthday present to you. It is you working Saturdays for extra money, and me giving up new clothes so Lola can have a Girl Scout trip. Nothing can ever, ever duplicate, replicate or equal the importance and meaning of our family and how we choose to live our life. We can go anywhere, we can live anywhere, but we cannot love like this with anyone. It is us, it is you, and your strength over the years, your steady work, work- you work harder than any man I've ever known- your dedication to us, you pushing yourself beyond personal limitations and making new of yourself.

We have everything we need or could want to be joyful this Christmas. We will stress, we will worry, we will fret, but we will not feel lack. So darling, for Christmas, I want to give you the safe and sheltered feeling you have given to me, when I had surgery, when I was afraid of flying, when I struggled to sleep, when I mourned my Grandmother, when I feared for our eldest, when I doubted myself. I give it all back to you now, when you need it. Everything irreplacable is here. Christmas is you picking up our daughter's from my Mom, and Ever's jubilant jump into my arms to nurse, and Lola's long scarf tangled around you as you hug. Christmas is Dakota's long lanky arms hugging us, Ian's tucked head grin while we laugh, it is our stupid dogs, barking. I love you. I love you.

Merry Christmas, Baby,

Mrs. Curry 

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