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After my morning job at the Quad, I headed to Harvard Square, a canvas bag always on my shoulder with a writing project and a book. Bright holiday music surrounded pedestrians and sometimes competed with a street performer braving the cold. Glitter and garlands hung over the streets, while store windows beckoned with cozy scenes of home and hearth.
Christmas in the city.
The Coop competed with the Square with lavish decorations and elaborate displays in every department. My second shift usually passed quickly between standing at a cash register and folding endless sweatshirts. I stood in a long line at the Coop time clock before walking home in the dark. The significant number of pedestrians on the sidewalks late at night continued to amaze me.
In my sparse little bedroom, I opened my sewing bag and stitched lace on wings of felt peace doves to give to work friends. On my day off, Beth and I sang along with the performers at the annual Christmas Revels at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, a beautiful rounded space with a dome ceiling made of natural wood.
First semester classes finished for Beth, with finals to be held after a two-week reading period in January. She packed several textbooks and novels before we drove home to Ohio for the holiday break. John Mayer and others sang to us from the music mixes Beth made. Notably missing on the drive was her N’Sync Christmas CD. At home we played it on repeat. We watched favorite holiday movies with Maria. John suggested a dinner date.
My best gift: Ben home from college and all of us together.
I accepted an invitation to the Christmas party at the group home where I had worked. Not surprised that little had changed, I hugged the residents. And left later with relief and no regrets.
At my mom and dad’s farmhouse in Vermilion, a tall live tree with handmade ornaments lit up the high ceilings and long windows of the parlor, as it had every December for well over a hundred years. Ben, Maria, and Beth gathered in front of the tree with their four cousins for the traditional holiday photo. I stood in the same spot many years earlier with my brother, sister, and cousins. At my in-laws in Lorain, John pretended to steal presents from his sister Jean to make her smile. She counted down the days until her January birthday.
Beth rang in the New Year as she had for the last five years, with her best friends Ellen and Lizzy. They watched the Elf movie and shared college stories. Her friends also made plans to visit Beth at Harvard for the first time, over their spring break. I loved how the girls continued their New Year's Eve tradition of fondue, movies, and easy laughter.
Next: First Harvard Swim Meet!
I'm a mom on a mission to share hope for those in crisis. My new memoir launches on April 9, 2019!
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