A Holiday Gift

I just need ten minutes of quiet. No voicemails or voices in my head. No ringing or pinging. No to-do lists, address lists, grocery lists or Christmas shopping lists. No kitchen appliances whooshing, humming or spinning. No screen of any kind. No teenage ‘tude. No color-coded calendar. No dog crawling into my lap, no cat sitting on my keyboard glaring at me reproachfully. No bills, emails or correspondence insisting on a response. No mother guilt weighing on my heart for all the things I haven’t done. Not even the Country Christmas internet radio soundtrack in the background. Just a few minutes of none of it.

The dryer stops, and the ensuing silence which often signals me to rouse and repeat the cycle, instead invites me to sit still.

It might be now. The kids are at school taking exams, the dog has been walked, one college boy is home but off to meet a friend for lunch. This moment might not arrive again today. Or this week. But it is here right now.

Just for 10 minutes, I promise. I set my meditation pillow outside on the porch in a patch of sunshine, away from all the noise-makers and hungry deadlines. I wrap myself in a blanket and close my eyes. There is a gentle breeze, and I realize I’m holding my breath. Exhale. I sit and listen, and settle. I catch my breath again and listen to my heart. Just sit. I push the words and lists away. I pull my eyelids back down and my shoulders away from my ears. Inhale. Grounded, supported, secure. I sway slightly to my heart’s beat. I notice the sound of freeway traffic and let them go. Right now, in this moment, my list contains only one item. Be still. Inhale, exhale. No words, no lists, no thoughts. Just this moment. Warm, steady, calm. Yes, like this.

And there in the stillness, I find her. Bubbling up in the silence. Unburdened, laughing, twirling in her favorite dress. Simply because she can. Because that’s pretty much who she is. Joy.

Exactly what I needed.

I have a cherished photo of my family, taken when I was about two almost three. My parents are holding my baby sister between them, beaming proudly at their little daughter, my mother’s hair a classic 1960’s flip, and my father sporting a moustache. I am equally delighted, perched securely on my father’s shoulders, smiling at the peeled orange in my hand. My sister and I still giggle about the fact that I was more entranced by the piece of fruit than by the baby. I suspect that California naval was offered as incentive to keep me still enough to snap the picture. Up on my father’s shoulders I am captive long enough to capture the moment on film. There are other photos from that day, and I am running and twirling in many of them, my shoes a blur of movement. Happy feet. Joy.

And now, my feet are beginning to tingle with numbness. I might have been sitting for a few more than 10 minutes. I inhale, smile and open my eyes. I want to hold on to this sense of joy in the midst of the Christmas chaos, even though I know I will likely lose it. I trust that I will find her again.

I return to the lists, demands and laundry, dryer humming with jeans and t-shirts, a rhythmic tap of the zippers sliding across the drum. Next, the coffee pot, gurgling and hissing, because those 57 unread emails are not going to answer themselves. I set a snowman mug and a Christmas spice cookie on a red, green and gold plaid cocktail napkin, and roll up my sleeves. I swing my inner little girl up to my shoulders and feel her presence, solid but not heavy, wiggling her happy feet, sticky orange juice fingers tugging playfully at my hair, and the two of us get to work.


Wishing you light and strength on your holiday path. And 10 minutes to yourself.

One thought on “A Holiday Gift

  1. Thank you, Charlotte, for sharing your beautiful self with me. You inspire me in more ways than I can explain.

    I am so glad I know you!

    Merry Christmas, and much love, Kel

    Sent from my iPhone


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