I no longer live in a household in which the children rise before dawn on Christmas Day. I am the only risen member of this family.
So Merry Christmas to these peaceable grey skies, and to the fat nuthatch skipping headfirst down the trunk of a white pine. Merry Christmas to the coffee dripping through the filter and the half-read paperback on the counter beside me. Merry Christmas to all of the invisible dogs, straining happily at their leashes and drinking from puddles; and to the doughty employees of 24-hour gas stations and convenience stores, all of whom know that you have forgotten something you were supposed to remember. Merry Christmas to the man in his cramped new apartment and to the woman who wakes up knowing that she will see her children tomorrow but not today. Merry Christmas to Bouncy Santa, faded and chipped on his elastic string, and to Santa Elvis, cut from newspaper 30 years ago, and to all of the other familiar silly ornaments that make families laugh when they see them. Merry Christmas to people who don't celebrate Christmas, and to those who celebrate it extravagantly, and to those who secretly wish it were already over, and to the wailing babies who are too big for the outfits their grandparents bought them last month. Merry Christmas to the cooks, marshaling their kitchen armies, and to the future winners and losers of the afternoon Monopoly game. Merry Christmas to the minister's husband frantically helping his wife find her single missing dress shoe. And Merry Christmas to you, dear reader, wherever you might be. Keep the day as it should be kept.