Friday, December 26, 2008

Touch Hands

I’m trusting that those of you who celebrate the ritual and holiday traditions of Christmas had a joyous gathering and a sacred ceremony honoring the Christ Conscience that buds and abounds in each of us.

I did, but this year it came through the evidential kindness of courtesy and humor.

I was fortunate enough to be with family, both biological and extended and it was wonderful.

Here’s what I noticed this year. It does not mean it did not occur in other years, but only that I noticed it this time.

Actually courtesy and humor have always occurred in the biological group I call family, but somehow this year the resonating grace vibrated through my aging and experienced nerves and I became more aware of it.

Here’s what I noticed: Attentiveness to the other; I watched it from young to old and from old to young. Where the child says thank you without the prodding from parents and where the elder chooses to become the child for a moment of shared joy in a game, in a silly action or from learning from the child in how to do, or put together, or connect, or program a seemingly simple task. Simple for the child, but complicated for the non-electronic minds of the elder.

There were also the other gentle courtesies of, “may I get you something” or “here try this, I thought you might like it”, or the magnificent power of a touch, a hug, a smile or even the shared laughter of genuine appreciation.

The humor part is the genesis of the laughter and we had plenty of that at my Christmas gathering. At times it was raucous and belly lifting. It was also subtle and coupled with a smile, and polite and sincere. It was the laughter of knowing the end of a thought, the end of a joke, or the end of a story since it had been told several times before at various family gatherings always at the knowing expense of one family member or another and everybody laughs again.

I think the most important part of these family gatherings and in fact of all family gatherings, yours or mine, are the memories we each take from them.

In the children it builds traditions and perennial expectations. In the elder it strengthens and confirms family and tweaks memories of what once was and what might never be again.

Children think it never ends and the old know it does.

There’s a poem by James Patrick Erdman I’d like to share with you as we celebrate the joys and happiness of this season.

The poem is called Touch Hands.

“Ah friends, dear friends, as years go by, and heads grow gray. How fast the guests do go.
Tough hands, touch hands with those that stay.

Strong hands to the weak, Old hands to young around the Christmas board, touch hands.
The false forget. The foe forgive. For every guest will go and every fire burn low and cabin, empty stands.

Forget! Forgive. For who may say that Christmas Day may ever come to host or guest again? Touch hands.”

Again Merry Christmas to all.

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