Christmas is a warm time of the year. I mean that literally - the fire in our furnace is always stoked high, the candles are lit, the kitchen is full of pots and pans and the oven's set to 400. The living room is crowded with people in their Christmas sweaters, sweating, praying that Matthew doesn't go back down to the basement to toss in another log (and if he does, please let it be some of that halfway rotten walnut but please oh please, not the red elm.) The south door is opened to let gushes of winter wind hiss in, and yet it feels like we're not in a barely-insulated farmhouse in the Midwest but sweltering in Qaddafi's tent. In Libya, not Central Park. And through the windows we see a pale pink sky over top white fields, blue shadows cutting across it in the distance where the trees stand tall. We see it and wonder at the fact that such cold can exist alongside such heat. Just a thin pane of glass between us, separating us from that bone-chilling cold. And as we fill our bellies and put our feet up on boxes waiting to be peeled out of their festive paper, that Christmas hush falls. We suddenly notice that the radio's been on, and we hear the words that are so familiar we often fail to notice them. But tonight we do: Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, 'til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, oh hear the angels' voices... And my throat feels tight and dry. And my breath catches in my chest, eases out in a low murmur that took too much thought. And I remember that He came. He came to this frozen, dark place. He came to melt our cold hearts. And the dissonance is jarring - God Almighty, here? The light of the world existing alongside such darkness? And it makes no sense at all, and for that, for that I thank Him. I bow my head and let the tears sting in my eyes. And Matthew notices it's getting late and heads down the old lopsided stairs, and the DJ makes some sort of Christmas joke and the next song starts to play. And it's over. Fleeting and gone; a momentary glimpse of something eternal.
I never got the idea behind Rorschach tests. First of all, I think they all look like splatters on a windshield. Or Georgia O'Keefe paintings. Or the guy from Gnarls Barkley*. But recently I read an article about ... you know what? I don't even remember anymore. But it was one of those explosive current events that causes everyone to be angry and take sides. And the article said that it was a true Rorschach test of our time, because all it did was cause people to solidify the opinions they already had. It added nothing to their thoughts, it only polarized. Everyone used it as an example to prove their wildly-opposite points. So then I finally got it, a Rorschach test takes something nebulous and causes you to have a gut reaction which in turn reveals something about you. Or at the very least, it causes you to blurt something out which shows a glimpse of who you are. . All this to say, I asked Flaco a question the other day which proved to be a bit of a Rorschach test. He was sitting in the cart. I was pushing him through Walmart. We were making conversation (puddles, bonbons, politics, otters) and it occured to me to ask Lucas what we should give Matthew for Christmas. And he said immediately, without a pause, without thinking, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world "A kiss from a puppy." . I don't know about yours, but my report reads as follows: participant displays high levels of sweetness, charm, and ingenuity; may lack in gift-giving abilities. . *You've sen this right?
except perhaps that this is the wild-eyed expression that my boy makes (accompanied by a loud howl of a scream) when he has unveiled a new delight for the masses. So here it is (drumroll? drumroll?): my son likes to crump. How do I know this, you wonder? (Aside from the obvious, of him appearing in the kitchen, crumping wildly while I cook supper?) I will tell you how: before he starts to dance, he holds up his skinny arms and proclaims (eyes closed, chin pointed high) "I LOVE TO CRUMP!" Often he requests "Jealous" by Lou Reed, a song choice which I don't think particularly suits his moves, but then again, I have nothing to do with any of this. So maybe you're thinking now, is it Matthew? Is he the one teaching the Flaco to crump?* Nope, it's Troy and Abed! (Hit the link, yes?) So we saw this clip about two months ago and thought nothing of it. I mean, other than that it's funny. But then a month went by, and suddenly Flaco struts into the kitchen - struts, I tell you! Like a rooster! - and makes his proclamation and breaks into dance. Like Billy Elliot, if Billy Elliot were a white/latin boy imitating a Palestinian guy imitating a black guy. What can I call it but a moment of sheer beauty. . *If you read that and the very picture of Matthew crumping made you laugh, you should stop by our house sometime, around 6:30. We get down.