It’s weird the way the mind works. Driving home from school tonight, I passed a home that had Christmas lights on in the tree in their back yard. I mean, I suppose it could’ve been party lights or any other kind of lights, but it looked like Christmas lights. And, while I can’t swear it with 100% certainty, I’m pretty sure I also caught a glimpse of a Christmas tree through their window.
Of course, my first thought was, What the hell? Who puts Christmas stuff up in October?
But immediately my mind conjured up possible reasons for such a seeming travesty. Maybe someone in the home is being deployed and won’t be around to celebrate the holidays with their family, so they want to do it now. Or maybe someone has some terminal disease and won’t ever be around again to celebrate the holidays. If I’d known Granny wouldn’t be here this Christmas, I would’ve put my tree up early to give her one last holiday celebration.
And, finally, I thought that maybe someone lives in the house who just loves Christmas, like Nathan. Nathan was my best friend’s son, and as long as I can remember, he loved everything about Christmas, particularly Santa.
Nathan was born with Down Syndrome, and that may have been at least part of why he was such an open and loving person, I don’t know. And maybe it’s part of why he didn’t have any qualms about wearing a Santa suit in the middle of the summer or having his room decorated with a Christmas motif to be enjoyed year-round. But I don’t know; that would be sort of like wondering if I’m the way I am because I’m a female. You can’t really speculate on how someone would be without a fundamental piece of who they are.
Anyway, seeing those lights tonight made me remember back to when I traveled to Manila for work six years ago. I don’t even remember now how it came up, but I mentioned to someone that I might like to try and find some sort of holiday trinket for Nathan as a souvenir, something a little different than the things we can always find at home, but I wasn’t sure that would be possible, since I was going to be there during the month of October. To my delight, I was told that for some reason the Filipino people seem to love Christmas, and you could find holiday decorations there any time of the year. Perfect! My mind started swimming with ideas of maybe stockpiling quite a few interesting pieces for all the Christmases ahead.
As it turns out, I only ended up buying one holiday item during that trip, and I placed it on Nathan’s grave when I returned home. That dear, sweet boy died while I was away, taking the joy of Christmas away from his mother for years, and ensuring that I can never see Santa without at least a passing thought for Nathan.
As all of those thoughts ran through my head while I completed my drive home, I admonished myself that I should not be so quick to jump to conclusions and think that people are strange for choosing to celebrate in any way they choose, any time they choose. I should realize that there is holiday joy to be found every single day, if we choose to find it. Surely I could have learned at least that much from Nathan.
This is Kim’s photo, but I think she’d be okay with me sharing it.