Monday, December 25, 2006

A Post for Christmas Day

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It's Christmas Day, but it doesn't feel like Christmas at all. No snow. Temperature in the 50s, maybe. We haven't had a truly cold winter's day yet this season. Of course, winter's just begun. But we all know that's not the reason.

Took Shiloh out for a walk. Two men were playing catch with a football in the empty lot near Newark Ave. I wondered who they were to each other. Brothers? Good friends? Cousins?

I called out hi to them, and the man nearest to me called back, "Hi, how ya doing?" then turned back to his game. I watched the football sailing back and forth through the air. It looked so companionable.

Walking back home down the other side of the street, I saw a young woman come out of the house two houses away from the lot. She called out a name. One of the men answered -- the nearer man. She couldn't tell where the voice was coming from. "Where are you?" she called. "In the lot," he answered. She looked around confusedly for a moment, and I was about to call to her, "They're over there," pointing toward the lot. But then she saw them -- or didn't see them, but heard where the voice was coming from, and looked in the right direction. She called out to them something I couldn't make out. I think she wanted them to come back in the house. I thought I heard her say she was tired. I looked back a moment later and saw them walking back toward the house. But the feeling between the two men and the woman was loving. The men's posture as they walked back was relaxed and content.

I continued on my way, and Shiloh stopped to poop. As I waited, bag in hand, I saw two young men walking toward me. They were very young -- in their late teens, or early twenties, maybe. I looked away until they got closer; then I looked toward them and greeted them: "Hi."

"Hi," one of the men said, with a smile. And then he added, "Merry Christmas."

I looked back at him, smiling. I held that smile for a beat or two, to let them know, I knew why we were being so unusually friendly to each other -- two strangers that we were.

"Thank you. Merry Christmas to you," I replied.

Then one of the men greeted Shiloh: "Hi, doggie!" he said.

Shiloh continued to poop, unconcerned.

Smiling, I said, "He doesn't know that it's Christmas."

They both laughed, and all three of us knew what I meant.

And I realized again in that moment -- as I do every year -- that this is why I love Christmas Day so much, even though I am not Christian and don't observe it as a religious holiday.

Only on this day would strangers greet each other as if they weren't strangers, and as if they actually cared.

It wasn't the words we spoke to each other. Minus the references to Christmas, we might have spoken those words on any other day.

But on this day, we meant the words. And we wanted each other to know that we meant them.


Chief said...

Beautiful ! ! !

This is a neat post.

Kathy said...

Thank you, Chief! I actually intended this at first as just a personal piece of writing, like a journal entry, after I got home from walking Shiloh. But then it occurred to me that it would make a good piece for a Christmas post on Liberty Street. I'm glad you like it.