What a happiness it is to have my family here, all of us under the same borrowed roof. For six months we have not laid eyes on our older son; we've never gone so long without seeing him. Now here he is, asleep in the living room, with his charming sweet girlfriend; and our younger son is asleep in Tom's study, and Tom has just kissed me goodbye and gone off to work. And new snow is sifting down onto the morning dog walkers and the city buses and the clanking dump trucks and the Subarus. And I am going out to buy sleds this morning so that later we can all play on the hill beside the bay. And after that we will eat fish tacos made with the amazing fragrant corn tortillas that James and Terranae brought us as a Christmas gift from their Chicago neighborhood . . . yes, fish tacos cooked on my very own functioning stove.
Tomorrow the travelers will borrow my car and drive off to spend the holiday with assorted grandparents and aunts and uncles. So Christmas proper will feature just the three of us. But the next day the Chicagoans will return, along with another big family contingent, who are trekking over from Vermont (if the weather allows) to see us in our new digs. If all goes well, on Monday night we'll transform into that annoying noisy party of eleven, the one that hogs all the space at the restaurant and asks too many questions about the food. It will be lovely.
Three weeks ago I still had no idea where I'd be spending Christmas, or who would be with me, or whether I'd be able to think about celebrating at all. It is a relief--more than a relief: a blessing--to feel myself relaxing into this easy cheerfulness. At the same time I can't stop thinking of Aleppo and all of the other places in this fractured world where easy joy has no meaning. That's the conundrum of happiness: I cannot ignore an equivalent awareness of my selfishness and self-satisfactions. Yet there it is. Joy. Like a diamond dropped in a mud puddle. I lean down and pick it up.