Mac Williams: After-Christmas traces
In keeping with the Church calendar, this column piece comes out one day before Epiphany (Monday, Jan. 6).
Just a couple of days past Christmas, I drove past decorations being disassembled at local park. A former myriad of nighttime, electrically lit colors from one end of the spectrum to the other, was now being outdone by the sunlit, “neon lime” green vests of City workmen packing them up for next year.
In addition to personal garbage containers being filled to the brim (and over) along the roads with Christmas wrapping paper, toy boxes, and ribbons, a big mobile dumpster being used for the clearance of a building’s contents at a strip mall had been “hijacked” by those not willing to wait for the trash man, or had run out of their own garbage can space (it even had a discarded tree or two). This dumpster was “hemorrhaging” Christmas’ festive wrappings in much the same way as Santa’s sleigh is imagined to “hemorrhage” gifts.
Thinking back to Joseph and Mary going to the city of their birth to be taxed, these overfilled garbage containers along the road waiting to emptied by city workers also reminded me that Ancient Rome excelled in both organization and public works (one for the late Mrs. Thayer Puckett).
It was taking a while for the city workers to pack up the aforementioned park’s outside Christmas bulbs. As I later walked by, and upon closer inspection, I noticed that the only light now born by each bulb was the tiny reflection of the bright planet Venus. The curvature of the glass, like a diamond’s facet, magnified Venus’ light just a bit. The only other possibility for any greater magnification of Venus’ image in those bulbs would have been the view of them achieved through that curved “glass” famously carried in the coat pocket of a fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Stopped at an intersection, my attention was violently taken from me by several fire trucks and ambulances speeding through. Christmas music, Christmas lights, and the ringing of bells of “Santa’s Helpers” were now replaced by emergency sirens and lights, in effect, saying: “Get out of the way! We’re coming through with urgency!”
After the light changed, I heard, “Beep, beep, beep” (not a flashback to the 50s’ Playmates’ song) from numerous sources, a sign that normality had replaced “Christmas manners” (although some are short on those as well). But they weren’t blowing at me! Even though I sometimes drive like an old man, I do know how to properly apply the gas when the light changes to green.
Often being in a “geological frame of mind”(I always loved earth science), I thought that just as the layers of the leaves of innumerable Fall seasons become packed down in the forest; I imagined “tinsely layers” of bright Christmas wrapping paper and ribbons packed down over the years in landfills and standing out from the more mundane refuse, each buried, glittering layer representing one Christmas, like the manner in which a period of time is represented by a layer of sedimentary rock.
Our Christmas memories, like that festive refuse, are laid down and covered by all which follows. But the landfill-buried wrappings and their later discarded cap guns, hoola hoops, and Davey Crocket Hats (I display my age) are un-retrievable.
A Christmas memory, however, being powered by breath and blood, is always easily “unearthed” by a chance thought or a chance feeling, to be washed anew by the purposeful tear.