What is Christmas, after all, but an idea? Of course its historical place varies for us in this country. It's a holiday. It's St. Nicholas's grand day. It's all presents and stockings and sales on televisions. It's the celebration of a distant birth freighted with impossible meaning.
Ideas. They are what I traffic in, in my world. I have them. My young charges do not. At semester end I ask myself if I have transmitted enough of them to earn the right to return the next term. (And I have so far always found my way back.)
This place, this academic water cooler, is an idea, too, of course. Really more of an idea than a real place. We examine the world through lenses uncommon. It's not the real academy. It's one we use to fret the ones that exist.
I put the lights on Mrs. Yaro's lovely tree. I think of the three kings and what they mean. I find myself frozen in place, in a warm light. I think of a little boy who lived in this house long ago who is with us no more, taken on a winter day in 1984. It was at Christmastime.
I would think that would color the season forever, but it hasn't. The smell of goose. Tinsel. What a word. It is glorious.
That the Christmas at times has been nothing but a savage reminder of our bitter loss - for it is Mrs. Yaro's, too, though I only truly know my own. And at others, a peaceful, beautiful time of remembrance.
In the same way my teaching has at times been only a job, a place to ply a trade. And other times, my vocation, avocation, an absolution, an empyrean endeavour.
I am all wind up this evening, lacking the pitch. I am not sure where this meditation is to go.
At this time of year my colleagues have mostly struggled to the airport to travel, abroad, or to family homes, or to warmer climes.
But Mrs. Yaro and I watch the fire and think of one baby born and one lost.
I have telephoned my family and friends tonight with hale greetings. I have told them I love them and miss them, and look forward to when we next meet.
And I thought to look in on all of you, for despite the modern and disconnected format of our community, I feel attached to you as well, so kind you have been to welcome my occasional tale.
And I send you my best, Yaro's, upon the evening, the season, and the Christmas.
I am yours,