Friday, December 19, 2003

The Season (sappy, personal, be forewarned)

It's a little known fact that I love Christmas music. I love Christmas everything. This has always been my favorite time of year. Oh, sure, the weather sucks for motorcycles, but I love the crispness of the air, and walking around downtown SF in the rain is just wonderful (washes away the smell of stale urine very nicely).

Went to San Jose to eat rice with some friends last night. My very dear friend is finishing up chemo right now, and telling us that Christmas is ruined. He can't return to Texas as he'd hoped for the holiday. And there will be no presents, he says, I am too goddam tired, it sucks, Christmas is ruined.

But I'm pretty sure the rice he made last night and the company we shared and the fact that he is still here to share it with us is the best present I'll get this year. I'm also hoping he'll take me up on my invitation for he and his fiance to come up north to be with my family for Christmas.

My grandparents built a huge house up north which they generally designed around the idea of "how can we best accomodate large gatherings of people?" The kitchen is big, and designed with a counter to gather around, sine we all end up in there anyway, but it opens up into the huge living room because none of us can stand to miss out on putting our two cents into each of the thousands of conversations happening at once. There are several extra bedrooms despite their retired couple status, as there is always a visitor or 30 coming through. "Stop in Jackson to see my family," my brother and I both tell our friends. "You can stay at my grandma's house. In the morning, she'll make you the best waffles you've ever had." My grandmother is the best person I've ever met, and she made the finest collection of people you could hope to meet. Christmas and Thanksgiving are the times I get the gift of family renewed, and every year, we are joined by "extended family," guests and friends of family. My grandfather, who loves numbers and trivia, takes joy in counting at every gathering... "30 people! 50 people!" I can hear his thoughts... What luck! What joy! Good company is really the best thing on the planet. And the numbers, there is magic in the numbers...

For Thanksgiving, we all talked about what we were thankful for. I said I was thankful for my family and friends, and just as important, the people that took care of my family and friends when I could not. In particular for me this year, this meant the nurses that have taken care of my loved ones in their need and pain. Cancer has been an ongoing theme; it doesn't surprise me anymore, but that doesn't make it less painful. My aunt would remind me that it's not a death sentence. (Ironic that she's the one who finally succumbed to it, then.)

For Christmas, I hope that my friends and family know their presence in my life is all the gift I could want. Some people have entertained me, brought me soup when I was sick, taught me, inspired me, put up with me, chaufferred me, fixed my bike, cheered me up, gotten to know me, and, a few even loved me. We've given each other a few adventures. In the end, I really don't know what my gift is to anyone else. I think it's hard to see that about yourself sometimes. But in the spirit of the season, the gift I'd really like to give to my friends: I'm hoping that I can can make you see yourself the way that I see you: tall, strong, loving, comforting, growing, and inspiring

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