Christmas Eve just hours away, I wrestled with the pros and cons of getting a few hours sleep, forgone since yesterday, before conversing via Skype with my fiancée, Paige, in Southeast Asia, or, instead, spending much needed sleep time writing and juggling home chores and holiday preparations.
I felt the heavy press of time, exhaustion and anxiety. There was a fair bit of guilt and depression, I think mostly from how little I had to spend for gifts. Like so many people these days, I’ve really been feeling the financial crunch. Oh, hell, why mince words? I’m broke, and I absolutely detest not being able to shower gifts, or even trickle them. That’s affected my attitude toward people in general, poorly, especially those closest to me.
A twelve-hour time difference and long workdays force Paige and me to lunge at opportune moments, less frequent than we’d like, for togetherness at odd and sometimes inconvenient hours. Weighing what’s sensible against longing, especially over the next 24 hours of this holiday best shared with those you love, we’d be lucky to get an hour to call our own, this our first Christmas together—apart.
All too often recently, my guilt and depression cloud the little time Paige and I do get to talk. And, more and more, the other woman in my life, in undeniable ways, demands equal time, she being Cookie, my muse. Of course, you, dear reader, discovered at nearly the same time as I that Cookie’s true identity is Calliope, the ages-old muse, but I’ll probably forevermore call her Cookie.
Paige is mature enough not to grow jealous…much…of my muse’s potent urgings. After all, she also suffers the writing virus. Still, I struggle to create ways to keep them both happy without forsaking either. It’s always seemed that the women I know manage that, with grace, much better than I can even bumble through. Besides, never demanding or nagging, I suspect Paige sees the futility and foolishness of engaging the immortal likes of an eternities-older Phoenician female.
Just what, you may now be asking yourself, other than the timing of my dilemma and a piddling income, does this have to do with Christmas? Everything. Magic. You see, Christmas was always magic to me. Though I don’t connect the holiday to my own religious beliefs or practices (rather, a chosen lack thereof), its wonder worked its way into my life, like most of us, during childhood. It excited me, lifted my spirit, and led me to hope and to share. Yet, as I walked, year by year, away from childhood, the magic and wonder dimmed to the accompaniment of depression, and in flusher times, I depended on my gift giving to fill in for magic.
Since you are reading this, I’m convinced the fix was in before the wrestling match I entered moments before I opted to write. I had to write, and what to write flew from my fingers much more than from my overly analytical, indecisive mind that usually battles me when I sit down to write. Cookie made those plans for me and completely facilitated their fulfillment, well beyond my most ambitious hopes. In a moment, I knew what to write as well as how to easily, happily and peacefully handle all else. She revealed much more to me; she shared more of her nature, more of what she holds for me and why, as well as how to best put it to use. Cookie then admonished me to share none of it except by way of demonstration—in giving of myself to others.
She did, though, let me know I could share the love she holds for a certain song, odd as it seems today when I wanted to hear traditional Christmas music, and that’s all that was in the playlist I’d set to shuffle. How strange it was that the old swing-era song, “Goody Goody” began to play. That definitely was not on my Christmas playlist. “So you met someone who set you back on your heels-goody goody! So you met someone and now you know how it feels-goody goody!” Those two opening lines repeated, over and over, conveyed her special message to me, a sharp turn from the song’s intended meaning. For at least a minute, somehow stuck there, that’s all that played. I thought, “Yes, I did, Cookie. I’m so glad to finally know you, and thank you!” And I swear, she giggled. Magic.
My writing for today nears completion, as do my other missions. I spent several wonderful hours talking and laughing with Paige. Before we said merry, merry and goodnight to one another, she said, “I always love you, but I like you best when you’re happy, and I’ve never heard you happier.” I know she was right about that, and she was happier than I can recall hearing her since she left the U.S. She knows more about love than I. She’s now sound asleep, well on her way to Christmas morning in Thailand. I haven’t slept like I hoped, yet I’m wide awake, refreshed, energized and filled with the magic and wonder of Christmas.
So, this was Cookie’s Christmas gift to me; filling me with words, laughter, love and magic—all intangibles—to share in the best spirit of the season, in ways I haven’t felt since childhood. I hope I have given some of that to you in return.