I checked the calendar. It's only November 16th. I'm sitting next to a bowl of Halloween candy. The yard is full of fading leaves, wilted by rain and sun. It's 54 degrees outside, and Thanksgiving is still more than two week away. But unexpectedly, I got everything I wanted for Christmas tonight. No bags, no boxes, no ribbons - except in my daughter's hair, damp from her shower.
The world has been spinning a bit too fast lately. Too many days in a row where I could feel our little planet spinning at a thousand miles an hour, hurtling through the empty void of space. But tonight, for a time, everything stood peacefully still, wrapped not in blanket of snow, but one of quiet time, just us watching a movie. On a school night, no less. My darling wife, at least as tired as me, asleep happily on the couch. My daughter perched on my lap, head resting on my shoulder. My son, snuggled between us, our dogs curled up at our feet. No e-mail, no phones, no bills to pay, no meetings, no laundry or dishes to squabble over. Just us and a movie. Maybe not your favorite, but mine. Fred Claus. Thanks, Paul. Thanks, Vince.
There's something about dancing elves, kids hopeful for a happy Christmas, and two brothers seeking redemption that mixes well for me. Maybe because my brother and I never quite got the chance to say one more "I love you, man" or because I'm a sucker for a down-and-out orphan kid from the city. Or more likely, I'm a fool for a happy ending. We watched the movie blissfully, giggling as Vince and the elves shook it out to Elvis, or chortled quietly - trying to let Mrs. Odds sleep - when Santa and Fred slugged it out with snowballs. It was all so good.
And when Annie Lennox started to sing "Holy Night", I was done in. I felt tears well in my eyes, and soon after felt them tip-toe down my cheeks, reminding me that I'm not as tough as I look. I remembered my mom and how she would try each Christmas to capture her three adult children in one magic moment, long after Christmas became about gifts, UPS, and credit cards. I thought about all the things I would say to my brother, and wondered if he would remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle he gave me when I was twenty, sagely stating that one should always get at least one toy on Christmas. Leonardo stands in my office, reminding me of better times and good advice from one seriously unlikely source. I felt my daughter's weight pressing against my chest, but the tightness there wasn't from her alone. Perhaps like the Grinch, my heart was growing three sizes too big.
So Santa, thanks for coming early this year. Really, there is no need for anything else this year. Well, for me anyway. There are lots of other kids, big and small, who could use a hula-hoop or baseball bat, a puppy or maybe a visit from their brother, sister, mom, dad, or other loved-one. And don't pay too much attention to the naughty-nice business. We all want to be nice.