Calm before Christmas
December always feels like a sled race down an ice crusted hill toward December 25th. The truth of it is a little different. The sled starts to slow down in the final few days and slowly comes to a stop making everything seem calm and peaceful.
Peaceful is a key word for me during the Christmas season. It takes me back to blissfully quiet cold winter nights as a child, with snow lightly falling on December 24th. I would walk over to the church at around 10 pm to begin the shovelling process. I would start with all the walkways leading up to the church doors before clearing the long sidewalk in front of 3rd Street and finally the one that runs down 4th Avenue. As the snow was falling the whole time, I would try to do a second clearing of the main sidewalks before parishioners started showing up at 11:30 pm to get ready for midnight mass.
"Those whose love we wanted but couldn’t get, we emulate." - Bruce Springsteen from Springsteen on Broadway
I remember wearing my grandfather's old black winter coat, his wool pants with suspenders and my dad's black turtleneck. I felt comfortable in those clothes, and part of something bigger than myself. I felt honoured to have the responsibility of clearing those sidewalks so the people could easily and safely make it into the church. For everyone arriving, I wanted them to feel that care and attention had been given to their presence on this most holy of nights.
I saw Dylan wearing an old sweater of mine the other day. In that moment, I sensed that he feels a similar connection to what I felt all those years ago. There is a through line from generation to generation that is important and precious.
I've been listening to Springsteen on Broadway over and over again since it popped up on Spotify. While Mr. Springsteen is a little older than me - he is 69 - the tethers he has to his hometown and family are so similar to my own. The stories he tells in this solo acoustic Broadway performance are completely honest, raw and beautiful. He cuts through the clutter and frivolous accoutrements of life and gets to the essential parts, the ones that linger long after the fluff has been blown away. And while there is no Christmas aspect to this collection of songs and stories, listening to it has helped me get closer to my essential parts and connect more deeply with Christmas.