I sent this photo to some friends today and one of them responded that I looked "ready for anything." Let's hope that that's the case.
At this particular moment, I'm listening live to the Christmas Vespers concert from my boarding school in western Massachusetts. My son made it home from Chicago tonight and, as I waited for his flight to arrive, I reflected on how things have changed. If I were a teenager in the Connecticut Valley, I would be in a candle-lit chapel participating in a concert of haunting beauty and anticipating my own flight home. But now when I go to the airport at holiday time, it's to pick up and drop off -- my own Christmas traveling days are long behind me.
For the last couple of years I could deny it, but this year I can't: all three children have gone and we are the ones at home, anticicpating their return. It's an odd feeling. They all have lives, activities, friends, far from us. We've never met either of our sons' most important girlfriends of the past couple of years. When they come back, they spend some time with their best friends of those Montessori years past, the closely knit group that numbered only 15 by the time they graduated from eighth grade and headed for six or seven different high schools, and then they are eager to return to the lives they have created as young adults.
I found myself thinking tonight that maybe we should have had the tree decorated and waiting for them. It's always been a family tradition that the five of us choose the tree together, with much squabbling over height and width, and then decorate it over the course of a week. But Christmas will be only a week away by the time the lovely daughter returns -- maybe it's time to revamp that tradition and create a festive atmosphere to welcome them home.
The truth is, I'm not ready for anything. I'd like to turn the clock back at least a few years.