I am listening to my longtime favorite Christmas album.
I am resting between flurries of holiday company. We have no agenda today, but I am slowly addressing Christmas postcards, formulating a game plan for a final shopping mission, eating leftovers, admiring laundry piles.
I am enjoying watching the neighborhood dig out after a windy snowfall. I take particular interest in watching Jim do his part. He is a bachelor, fifty-something, lived in the same house since he was born. He dons navy blue Dickie overalls, brown Elmer Fudd hat, and a beige corduroy barn coat. Smoking a cigarette, he walks down to the corner convenience store with his red gas can, coke bottle glasses fogged up. We see him walk back, 15 minutes later, gas can full, cigarette expired. Soon the cold winter silence is broken by the noisy grind of a two stroke snow blower engine as he begins to clean the street in front of our house- just the edges where the city snowplow didn't do very well. We, and our neighbors across the street are the recipients of his special attention. Eric shoveled us out before leaving for work this morning, so Jim must only address the needs of the street out front. It is like a game of hide and seek- sometimes we see him, sometimes he is hidden in the geyser of snow coming from the snow-clearing machine. Later I notice him across the street with a shovel, his portly shape stands straight, only his arms moving. He has already carefully groomed the driveway of our elderly neighbors, now beginning the many steps leading to their front porch. After a few minutes, he exchanges the orange bucket like shovel for a wide, blue, metal snow pusher. Several pushes and he has put the finishing touches on their white washed yard. He retires home for a cup of coffee, or if it were summer, a can of Mountain Dew. After lunch he'll leave for his 2nd shift job, operating large machinery. The rhythm of his life changes little, and for this he is a comforting fixture on our block.
I am feeling thankful for days like these and these good gifts.