True Grits of Christmas

The Beatles started streaming through every draughty hole on Christmas Eve. I felt Scroogy about them turned into ambient noise. It was then that I knew I was an old fart.
So while these new shoots of humans self-photograph, self-define, self-transform, self-trigger, self-harm, self-whip, self-nae-nae and greenly whistle grammar-free through optic fiber, I will help myself to creamed grits, reading glasses and a rocking chair.
The season was softly wreathed for me by two romantic comedies featuring Hugh Grant. I watched them within three days. Hugh Grant never used to happen to me while I was young.
The top and center Christmas gift I received today was a pair of gardening pants.
Which I loved so much I immediately put them on over the pre-existing pants.
Clearly, all signs point to my increased age and wisdom.
Which must be why I feel compelled to essay on the true meaning of the season. (The essay can be de-seasoned and reused later.)
On the Eve, I was swimming with my youngest child in the Gulf of Mexico. The kid is four, and he is one of my top fave peeps.
He cried and cried, and did not want to go in the ocean, even to the shore where the water comes in conservatively for one second and one foot, even if I held him tight. Given the big waves and his small size, he was only being reasonable. I took him home, washed him and put him down for a nap.
He woke up and said in that sleepy sticky cinnamon-bun voice: “Mama, I had a horrible dream.”
“What happened in it?”
“I was eated by a shark. In the big ocean.”
“Where was I in the dream?” – I always ask that. The hope persists that one day a kid will say: ‘You were there, mama. You fought for me. You fought the monster, and you won, and you saved me.” But they never do; I always fail, or am gone, or stand by idly as the world unravels. I fail to love them into a sense of security so strong that even in bad dreams they are safe.
I wanted to be there, baby. I want to save you, always.
“Where was I in the dream?”
“I put you in my mouth, mama. I put you in my mouth so the shark won’t get you. I did not chew you. I just held you inside very gently.”
I had never heard anything like this before.
How can I explain where my heart went when he said it.
In we go, like Russian nesting Jonahs, into the belly of a whale. The heart breaks and heals in new patterns every time.
The Beatles’ trumpets are leaking “All You Need is Love” through streaming sieves and Hugh Grant movies. I disagree that love is all we need. I think – with a change in modality – that love is all we can.
By the way, if you ever go in the Gulf and a shark is about to eat you, for all that is holy, do not put glop on your hands. Any glop. I quote: “It will make the shark change to a different color, and the shark will become red, and it is a very bad thing.”
Don’t cause a very bad thing.
The ocean is already dangerous.


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