Even though this is a post-Christmas Tale, I really wanted it under the tree before the stroke of 12 am on Christmas Day. I just (barely) made it, Newfoundland Time.
You're Miracle Enough
A Christmas to remember, Jacob thought, sighing quietly. The presents had been given, the cookies eaten, the glasses clinked, the cheeks kissed, the candles lighted, the songs sung - this year's Yuletide had swept in and crested and was now slowly receding, leaving behind a tinselled tangle of wrapping debris, empty bottles and jumbled memories.
Christmas was no small undertaking in Jacob's world; there, it was more marathon than sprint. Over the past few weeks, he'd traversed the full Circuit of Cheer - party and pub, home and church, anticipated and required, family and friends and even a few foes. He'd laughed himself hoarse, drunk himself silly, and pushed himself mercilessly to make this the Perfect Christmas for those whose good opinion of him mattered most. Or at least for most of those whose good opinion of him mattered most.
Jacob had run the race for all he was worth. He'd worked hard, played hard and hoped hard, all the while trying his best , as he always did, to go easy on expectation.
Now he was mostly just tired, well and truly Christmassed Out. Looking back, his memory was of a whirlwind of doorways, each threshold crossed one of welcoming warmth banishing the chill at his back, a chorus of voices calling out his name and raising their glasses at his entrance. And of his own broad smile and loud voice gladly greeting them all, his sharp eyes flicking restlessly across each room, making a list of who was, and who was not, there. Always noticing, never asking why.
There was a crystal-clear memory of wide-eyed delight, immediately pursued by the jagged-shard recollection of a derisive snort of contempt, both of those chased away by a remembrance of the serendipitous grace of an unexpectedly, undeservedly, heartfelt smile. Jacob wondered if it might be alright to revel in the brilliant successes of the season, or if he should instead tally up the efforts that fell short, feeling a familiar pressure to complete that Shortfall List before someone else did it for him.
But then he thought again about that unexpected, undeserved smile, about context and subtext, action and response, plot and subplot, chorus and verse - about the heart of the Story and the story of the Heart. Somehow, someway, those thoughts dulled the cutting edge of Failure's memory and illuminated Success to a dazzle. For the first time in a long life of hoping hard and going easy on expectation, it occurred to Jacob that he might possibly make a Things Done Well List too, and that if he didn't complete that list himself, there might even possibly be someone else who would do it for him.
Christmas Miracles can be made of such small stuff. Small but sweet, and Miracle indeed.
Definitely a Christmas to remember.
Happy Christmas, with much love.