We’re tucked in together, shoulder to shoulder, like books on a shelf. To my left, my husband’s look-a-like, the grey haired version, his face and gestures strange on that familiar frame. His left leg is propped in the aisle, too stiff to bend completely. On the right, my mother’s sister uses her one good hand to maneuver her leg brace into position. Farther down my daughter clambers awkwardly over Daddy and brother, the mountain of coats chair, and Oma, who’s hiding a bag of candy canes at her feet. Nine-year-old arms and legs narrowly miss kicking the curly head in front of us as she wedges herself onto my lap. It’s a full house tonight. Warmth on every side.
There’s a cool draft sneaking in under the door. The light stretches thin into this back hallway, the shadows at the end overpowering it entirely. Such a cold, industrial space would seem unwelcoming to most, but his appreciation echoes all the way down. “Baaaaallllllll!” he shrieks, chasing the imitation pigskin as it bumps and thumps its way down the tiles. I close the lid of the Lost and Found box, grateful to the careless student who unknowingly provided our intermission entertainment, my very own half-time show. As he falls on his prey, it’s hard to tell who’s winning the wrestling match. The unwieldy ball is much too big for his little hands, but his enthusiasm is larger than life. I’ve no doubt the ball will eventually concede defeat, collapsing in sheer exhaustion. I certainly do.
The stage is dark in every way: black floor, heavy curtains, every light extinguished. But I can hear them, the shuffle of ballet slippers and instructional whispers and nervous giggles. Every parent leans forward, peering past elf costumes, shellacked hairdos and garish stage make up to find their very own dancer. Mine’s wearing a chef’s hat, an apron, and a stage smile I’ve never seen before, but I recognize her shape, the impish twinkle in her eye, and the baking sheet she stole from my cupboard last month. My other dancer comes out more than once, part of senior company, she plays many parts; while I know her face, I don’t recognize her at all. She is so grown up, so graceful and beautiful. Not the baby I used to dance around on my hip.
These moments, these details, fly by so fast. Each one, a brief glimmer of joy and family and the Christmas I’m hoping for. But I’m more focused on keeping us all out of trouble and inside the lines. Shushing the littles who holler and wail at the worst times, making holiday plans with the in-laws, feeling hemmed in by the crowds and worried about dinner, snapping at my partner for not knowing what I need and taking offense when he does the same.
I miss them. Over and over again, I miss the glimmers. They slip through my fingers while I juggle my worries and obligations. I need to rewind, to relive it in slow motion and taste the best moments again.
I guess that’s why I write.
So here’s us, hobbling and flailing, shrieking and wrestling, and dancing our way to Christmas. It might not be postcard pretty, but we’ll get there.
This was written for the Word Press Weekly Writing Challenge: Collecting Detail Weekly Writing Challenge: Collecting Detail | The Daily Post
write about three original details I noticed from encounters during my day.