Saturday morning. Yoga class at the YMCA. The instructor welcomes us, invites us to stand at the top of our mats, invites us to feel the four corners of our feet rooted into the mat, invites us to face our palms outward and to slow our breath. And the instructor invites us to give ourselves this time and to leave the worries of the world & mind off the mat—just for this hour give ourselves this time.
So I did, that Saturday.
So I will this Christmas Eve. And also Christmas day.
Monday evening. I sit at my laptop. My father-in-law several feet from me watching It’s a Wonderful Life. My mother-in-law several feet from me wrapping presents at the kitchen counter. The tree sending out its yellow light. My wife peeling off price tags.
And here I sit. Rooted in this time and space I am giving myself.
Forgetting for This Now that our minivan needs four new tires. That the driver window makes an obnoxious screeching noise when we roll it up and the passenger side door pops loudly—ever so often—when we try to open the door. The tires and the window and the door will be there Wednesday. They don’t serve me in This Now.
Several feet from me, in the back guest bedroom, my children sleep. One in a crib, sucking his thumb, his red wavy hair launching itself from his head. The other two, in a queen bed together, in matching Mickey Mouse pjs, rolling into a deep sleep.
And here I sit. At the kitchen table where in ten hours the family will gather for Christmas Day brunch. I hear my mother-in-law working on something in the kitchen. My father-in-law has left the Jimmy Stewart classic, though the movie plays on.
From the roof, I hear a thuuuuump
Forgetting for This Now that I have 90,000 words due to my publisher by March. That I have authored 50,000 of these words but have run out of steam and worry about finding the energy to see the project to the end. Forgetting for This Now that I have a revision due for a book chapter, that I am waiting reviewer feedback for an article that is already tainted with a straight desk rejection from another outlet, that I am awaiting feedback on an edited collection proposal that is already tainted with a rejection from another outlet. The writing and rewriting can wait. They don’t serve me in This Now.
In This Now, my wife is one foot from me stuffing a doll and accessories into a burlap bag. I see make-up items for my daughter sitting next to my laptop. In This Now, I feel my stomach full of coffee and pastries. In This Now, my children sleep peacefully, spurred to bed with promises of Santa.
From the chimney, I hear a rattle
Forgetting for This Now that my mom is battling a degenerating back. That she is in such pain that my wife and I are hesitant to bring our crazy young kids around her. That she calls expressing sorrow that she cannot babysit, cannot lift our little dude in and out of his crib. I’ll put my mom’s back to the side. Come to it later. I can’t control it and I choose to sit here in This Now.
In This Now, my father-in-law has returned to the Jimmy Stewart movie. My mother-in-law has left her wrapping and it busy over the stove. My wife is placing a bow on the second burlap sack.
From the fireplace, I see a boot
In This Now, my three young children are suspended in a magical space between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Drifting in this space as the adults labor and prepare. As we all wait full of expectations for what will come.
From the fireplace, a boot and a figure and a sack. Red and white. I see
In This Now, my wife’s voice pulls me from the fireplace. My eyes turn to find her standing in the hallway. She has completed her work. Her beauty warm in the darkened space. A corona of kindness radiating from her presence, pushing against the dark. She has taken out her contacts, glasses perched on her nose, her hair pulled back. She calls me away from my screen and to bed. I take out my earbuds. Step away from my screen. Walk toward her. From behind I hear him work and arrange the presents.
So to bed. As This Now carries forward to the magical space between Eve and Day, a space my children already inhabit and to which I will soon join them.
I leave him to his work with the presents, hearing him eat the cookies my daughter left.
Thankful that tomorrow I can choose This Now again, that I can choose to bring with me that which is needed at this moment and to leave that which is out outside of this space.
My minivan can wait, so can my writing, so can the worry over my mom’s back.
For Now, I am fully here.
From the roof, I feel a lurch.