John and I love Christmas. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the cards, the gifts and the gatherings. This being 2020, the gatherings are out. We will miss them. To make up for them we will load up on all the other facets.
It is cloudy and raining heavy this morning. It is a week before Thanksgiving. I've written a lot about this pandemic. There may not be one for another hundred years. I want my great grandchildren and their grandchildren to know about this time. The year grandma was not invited to Christmas dinner. As illness and death surround me like this dark, ominous storm outside my window, I bask in Christmas magic tucked in to a holiday dream my husband and I created over the last 30 years. I've often contemplated why we love Christmas so much. This morning a clarity has arrived. We both suffered in life in many ways. The first few years of our childhood were somewhat normal. We were embraced in the loving arms of our families. Christmas traditions were a normal part of our early years. Then suddenly we were both cast out into the darkness of unfamiliarity. John through divorce and me through death. Both of our experiences were followed by years of abuse and neglect. During those days Christmas was a time of reprieve, a small taste of normalcy. And through the grace of God and wonder of the years, we found our place in life together.
Our first Christmas together as friends, I was going through a cancer diagnosis and a rocky divorce. I was broke, sick and confused. Christmas snuck up on me. One of my students gifted me with a little 3 inch wooden Christmas tree. I took that little tree home to my trashed out temporary townhouse and put it on the table. That was it, that was my simple magic making. 30 years later, I still have that tree and it comes to remind me each year of the true and simple meaning of Christmas. Now, when I look at it next to my huge 12 foot tree with 400 decorations from 29 years of memories, that little tree says God's love is bigger than my challenges, bigger than death and divorce and cancer and yes, now a pandemic. God's love is huge and is as real in a three inch tree as in a Christmas wonderland.
The following Christmas, a year after cancer, John and I had followed friendship with love. I had moved into a house I bought on my own. Painted the living room walls light magenta and covered the floors with thick dark magenta carpet. I took a day off from teaching in early December and John and I went to a Christmas tree farm and cut down our first Christmas tree together. It was a cold day and a light snow was falling. We drank hot chocolate and brought that perfect magical tree into my magenta fairy room and decorated it. I was in love with that moment and also knew I wanted to spend every Christmas with this partner in creativity. By the next Christmas, John was down on one knee asking me to be his wife. It was Christmas day when he proposed with a song he wrote called 'Will You'. He proposed to me in his childhood bedroom, the one he spent years of abuse in. It was fitting because as we closed that door we opened the one to prosperity and healing. Did I mention I said YES! Nine months later we were married.
John and I built our magical life of love and abundance out of a need to balance out the years of loneliness and lack. We have succeeded. This beauty inside these walls does not negate the dark clouds outside, but is richer because of them. The lights shine brighter in the darkness. A child, a baby in a cradle, born in humility is that light. His life is the mystery and the majesty of this season. His life is the hope and the shining beauty of the meaning of why we celebrate.
John and I have tried to co-create that wonder each day of our lives, with special attention given to these few weeks. We light the fire, I bake the cookies, we decorate to the extreme. Our home is an expression of love for each other and for our friends and family.
We gather with you all in our memories and in our hopes for the future.
Peggy Perry-Hill has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan. She spent many years as a public school teacher. Her goal was always to be a full time writer. She has spent the last 25 years traveling the globe with her husband John Two-Hawks, presenting concerts workshops and retreats. Her mantra has been 'making music and making friends'. Peggy has also written several books with her latest being 'Give Peas a Chance' a nostalgic 60s cookbook which she wrote to hold onto some levity in her life during the pandemic. She has facilitated Women of Wisdom (WOW) retreats for over 15 years. Peggy is the owner of Circle Studios Records and CSR Media Publishing Company. Her passion is compassion and she has stood for decades by another mantra, Love is a Verb, so her main goal in writing is to inspire her readers into action. Peggy Perry-Hill is a wife, mother, and grandmother who loves writing, music, theater and culinary arts.