I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas magic

Joe Meche's Christmas gift to us
This has been a Christmas season for me like no other. Suffice it to say that the second cataract surgery was successful, and now I am looking at the screen with two eyes and no glasses. It's perfect. I now have distance glasses for driving and watching movies in the theater, but when I'm not wearing them, the world looks much like it did before! With them on, I can read even the tiniest print on street signs, something that had been missing from my vision for years and years. I am beyond thrilled and very glad that the ordeals are behind me, hopefully. I will see the surgeon on Wednesday for the final left eye check and the one-week All Clear for the right eye, giving me the chance to resume my yoga practice. I'll be placing drops in the right eye all the way until the middle of January.

We don't do much for the holidays, just carry on as we usually do, with a few extra parties and indulgences, but we don't exchange gifts any more. Not formally, anyway, but in the course of events we end up buying a little something for each other while out and about. SG treats me to many delightful healthy dishes, and I saw him perusing a book he wanted while we were out, so I bought it for him. We do these kinds of things year round, but just being out in the crowded stores together at this time of year was unusual. We were on our way back from one of the many visits to the surgeon.

It was truly cold yesterday on the walk with the ladies around Lake Padden. Clear and cold, I was taken by surprise at how cold it felt before we got warmed up as we walked. Although it was 24°F (-4°C), the light breeze made it feel much colder, and my face felt frozen, as I walked without wearing any glasses to warm my eyeballs! But within a twenty-minute window, suddenly all the clothes I was wearing made me feel almost overheated. It amazes me how much the body's internal temperature rises when one gets moving. Before long, I was shedding clothes, along with many of the other women. We chatted as we walked, happy to be out on a fine day with each other. More than a dozen of us were dressed with jingle bells tied to our shoes and festive wear for the season. Afterwards, we gathered at a local cafeteria to share coffee and enjoyment before heading off to our respective homes or last-minute shopping. It was so lovely.

Today I will head to the coffee shop to join my friends there for my usual Sunday morning latte. At this time of the year, not many people rise early, so it'll probably just be us and the staff, listening to Christmas music and playing with our iPads. I realized with a shock yesterday that I've known John for more than four years now, and I look forward to seeing him. My life is enriched by his friendship. Tomorrow he, Lily and I will head out in his big truck for our early-morning adventure of trying to find a cup of coffee somewhere other than Avellino's, which will be closed, along with almost every other place in town.

Now that I've had so many different Christmas Eves in my life, I can look back and remember them with joy and gladness. When I was young, it was a magical time of a fragrant Christmas tree decorated in the house, with tinsel back then, and presents under the tree that we exchanged with each other. I was the oldest, but my sister Norma Jean and I were only the beginning of the family Mama and Daddy would produce. PJ was born when I was seven, and our Christmases then included a baby, then a toddler, and finally a playmate. My only brother was born when I was sixteen, and my two youngest sisters were born after I married and left home, so I never knew them as well as the others. Being only one year apart, those two have remained very close throughout their lives.

My parents moved a great deal, since Daddy was in the Air Force, but somehow when I think back on those early years, the constant in our lives was the family, not where we lived but each other. Daddy was gone a lot, but Mama created a home for us, wherever we were, and it created a warm and secure childhood for us. Mama was only 69 when she died, and Daddy had been gone for more than a decade by then, so we never got a chance to experience their old age with them, but now that I am much older than either parent ever got a chance to be, I can imagine how it might have been. No old folks home for them: they would have aged in place, in their retirement home, with us grown children coming home every holiday season to visit our beloved parents.

Now that my sight has settled down, I am reading several books at once, and one that I'm enjoying especially is the sequel to Anne of Green Gables. The author wrote a long series of stories at the turn of the twentieth century about Anne and her family, and I have loved being transported to another era, realizing how every single period has had its own magic. Today we are in a difficult time, with the human population of the planet almost at its maximum, and other life forms dying off because of it. I know it sounds harsh, but in many ways I'm glad I'm old and will probably not be around to see the worst of the days to come.

But peace and joy will reign again, they always do, and the magic of this season will continue to delight people for as long as there are people. I could get really maudlin and dystopian right now and imagine the awfulness ahead, but I will resist and instead think of all the good happening in the world on this Christmas Eve. Tomorrow Christians the world over will rejoice in the birth of Jesus, who came into the world at a very tumultuous time indeed. The cycle of life continues, and every dark time is followed by the return of the light, the return of joy that will ring out with gladness in the days and years to come.

My own little world is perfect right now, with my keys tapping out a message to the larger world that all is well, all is as it should be. My tea, long gone, my partner still sleeping, the darkness outside soon to be banished by the bright rays of the winter sun, I am filled with gratitude and wonder. My wish for you on this Christmas Eve is that if your heart is sore it will be comforted, if your sight is clouded it will be clear, and that the gift of family and friendship surround you in whatever manner you most desire.


Tabor said...

How wonderful that your sight is so much better. I am so glad, because this was a bit traumatic for you, I am sure. Now you can move forward to 2018 with optimism. Yes there is no reason to dwell on the great sadness across the globe now. We can only do our best to help those who need us and then try to be fully optimistic.

Marie Smith said...

Such an optomistic post, Jan! The anxiety about the eye surgery is in the past and you are embracing life again. Have a great Christmas with all the special people in your life!

Gigi said...

I can only imagine how delighted you must be with your vision! What a great Christmas present for you! Enjoy your Christmas, my friend!

Bonnie said...

I am thrilled to hear of your successful second surgery! Thank you for sharing youself and your life in both of your blogs. I appreciate and enjoy them both.

Merry Christmas from Missouri Jan!

Elephant's Child said...

I am over the moon thrilled to hear that your second surgery also went well. As I read this, smiling, I am sipping my second cup of tea and my partner (and Jazz) are still asleep. It is not yet light, but the birds are starting to sing. Dawn is not far away.
Christmas has landed here, and I hope that yours is lovely and that it and the coming year are bursting with health and happiness for you.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Yes optimism is the way to think for we are the fortunate ones as we are free to share and move around as we choose. While we also share giving all year wevstill keep some of the Christmas magic as our children like to keeps this one aspect each year. We do not make it big with loads of baking and such, just a tree and a few things like a table runner. Gifts are the practical kind and limited to a few. A box ot Turtles is a must and a new calendar is what Buddy likes to gift. Our dinners vary too. This year we are four so itvwill be simple and healthy. Laster year we were 21 and there was a huge variety as people brought goodies.
Once again a very Happy Christmas gto you and family here and there.

Linda Reeder said...

You song this season will be "I can see clearly now". I'm so happy for you.And yourn success bodes well for all of us who might be facing this procedure eventually.
I can look at the state of the world with despair or with hope. Because I have children and grandchildren, I must choose hope. I must believe in the human spirits of caring and inventiveness that have tackled problems before and will so so again.
Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, dear friend.

Arkansas Patti said...

Like you I sometimes am glad I am old but then I realize that since a lot of my loved ones aren't. So I must shift into optimism gear and believe this will just as likely turn out well after all. We must do our part and keep the faith.
I am delighted that you have been given a new and sharp vision. Now your physical vision matches your internal one. Enjoy 2018 my eagle eyed friend.

Meryl Baer said...

Beautiful post. Merry Christmas and enjoy a laid-back day. I hope you find great cup of coffee to begin your day.

Jackie said...

I'm glad to know that your eyes are healing nicely.
I wanted to stop by and wish you and those you love a blessed Christmas.
Hugs and love,

Red said...

You tie many things together. You are able to look back at the happy times you had and look forward to more good times.I think that be fore the wheels fall off the earth that we will make adjustments and turn things around.
Have great Christmas.

The Furry Gnome said...

Glad your vision worked out so well. A pretty big Christmas gift!

Rita said...

Just feels like 2018 will be a better year. Light after the darkness...in a few areas. There were already areas of light in 2017, but it just feels like more positive changes ahead in 2018. Enjoy those new eyes, Lady!! I hope you find a place to have coffee. ;)

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, DJan. Aloha from Hawaii.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Enjoyed this post! I don't think I can do better than repeat Arkansas Patti's comment: Now your physical vision matches your internal one. What a wonderful Christmas gift. So happy for you. Take care, be well, and Merry Christmas! John

Far Side of Fifty said...

Merry Christmas my friend and to your Smart Guy too! Your thoughts are lovely! :)

Glenda Beall said...

"I'm glad I'm old and will probably not be around to see the worst of the days to come." I find myself saying these things, DJan. But it still upsets me to see selfishness and greed destroy our world. I do believe in the good of mankind and that good will prevail. I love your posts.