Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gift-Wrapping The Year: What I Wish I Could Give

I sit among piles of wrapping paper, a sea of greens and slivers of silver darting through like minnows. There are reds and crisp whites, tissue paper and too much ribbon, snowmen cards to say, "Hello," and "Merry Christmas from" and I am awash in the chaos of Christmas.

What I want to wrap up this year though, stow away for safekeeping under trees and in stockings are moments. This uncontainable laughing fit, that early morning on the rooftop deck overlooking the Capitol Building, the walk from 8th St to 2nd St. I sit among cardboard skeletons of boxes, my clothes still carrying their faint whiff of District air, and I want to wrap them up again and give them away. 

So I imagine.

I imagine wrapping up the gift of Ebenezer's Coffeehouse small vanilla chai and giving it to Hannah - watching as she unwraps with glee the hours that unfolded in our chairs by the glass door, our legs curled up under us and our hearts in our hands on the table. I can see the grin seep into the corners of her face as she realizes that I've included spontaneous trips to Georgetown on the Circulator and just a taste of the Pumpkin Spice Baked & Wired cupcake we shared over west coast espresso and Anthropologie dreams. 

I imagine tying a ribbon neatly on the gift of the D6 bus at 7:55am, hands in pockets as the group of us huddled together, waiting to begin our commute. I offer it to Virginia - the prompt 8:10 question about friendship or love, the laughing "see you in class!" when I clamber out the bus back doors at 16th and K St. I can see her sign "Thank you" and the faint echoes of laughter as she looks at me and envelops me in a hug, the two of us together remembering tea at 1:30am and signing our way through the Rayburn House Office building one brisk November afternoon.

I imagine carrying the big box of Family Night Dinners to Lisa-Jo and sitting with her at the long table in the back as she pulls out conversation after conversation. Mixed in I have placed Himalaya, La Loma, her favorite frosted sugar cookies. She smiles because we give each other Zoe, the gift of Life, and Grace, the gift of Love. And in the box of conversations I imagine Lisa-Jo finds created, chosen, cherished and celebrated on a small silver necklace - the conversation that means so very much to both of us who blog and laugh and live such very different and full lives. 

I imagine cupping my hands around a poorly wrapped cup of early morning coffee for Sam, our sweatshirts and hats keeping our ears warm as we laugh and talk, our heads together. I imagine she undoes the ribbon and discovers that I have included that first walk to the Lincoln Memorial and the stories we told each other. 

I imagine unwrapping a sunny afternoon at Jacob's with Cynthia, white chocolate mocha and green tea sipped in the rays of light on the brick patio. I imagine her joy at the small bundles of laughs I tucked in the corner of the box - our mutual love of bright pink shoes, yellow berets, and puppy dog faces. I imagine giving her smaller box, with nothing but a hug inside it.

I imagine presenting my apartment with the special, treasured gift of nights at our kitchen table, grinning like fools, laughing so hard they could hear us on the roof, our Sunday community meals, and our laughter ringing out over the living room where we sat at desks and uncomfortable couches, late night runs to 7-Eleven and the stories, the stories that would burst out of the wrapping paper into the air - stories of Harris Teeter groceries, Busboys & Poets, trips to Chop't and Starbucks and the world of Eastern Market. 

I imagine giving these gifts this Christmas, to all of those wonderful people who gathered around me this fall and surrounded me with more love than I could have imagined. I imagine giving these gifts, wrapping them up carefully in the semi-darkness of my bedroom, and joyfully presenting them under the tree. 

For now, I imagine these gifts, and I give them to you, readers, who are my special gift this season. Christmas is gratefulness - and this year, I am so grateful for you.


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