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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Serendipity

As I walked toward the town Christmas Festival this weekend, an event I’ve attended with my daughter for the last 10+ years, a fire truck drove by, its siren blaring and horn honking.  Santa rode shot gun in the passenger seat on his way to our town common.  There he disembarked, waving a white-gloved hand to the line of toddlers staring in awe.  I paused; a lump of memory squeezing my throat, as he crouched in front of a tiny boy, then crossed the frozen grass to mount his red sleigh. 

Over all her Santa-believing Christmases, we never took our daughter to the mall to meet St. Nick, preferring this open air, non-commercial event instead.  Each year, surrounded by the white-steepled churches and antique homes, she’d clamber up to sit beside Mr. Claus and have her picture snapped.  Not for us the crush of crowded shopping centers, holding coats and hands of sweaty children for eternal minutes, while standing in long, snaking lines.  We may have stamped cold feet, but we never waited long.  After the photo-opp, we’d wander through the festival venues, before retreating to the Second Parish Church where we’d pick up the Polaroid picture of our girl sitting beside Santa, elves had fashioned into an tinsel-covered ornament. 
 
When her Santa years ended, she and I continued to attend the Festival together, stopping first at the Episcopal Church for their used book sale, before trotting down to the congregational church for bowls of homemade clam chowder.  At a table in the back room, we’d crumble our crackers into the thickened soup and slurp its salty goodness.  

This year, after purchasing five books, I headed down for chowder, but with my festival partner off at college, I didn’t have the heart to eat there alone. I purchased a pint to go, crossed the common to the community center where the Greek Orthodox Church was selling Baklava, spending my last $3.00 on a piece to share with my non-chowder-eating-husband.  Then I headed home.  In all, it was a lovely day, except for the undercurrent of missing my regular companion.
 
Here is where karma pops in.  Our daughter’s name is not uncommon, though its spelling is.  Living with my own misspelled and mispronounced appellation, I should have suggested we think a little harder before we named her, but that’s hindsight.  As a result, she too has experienced a lifetime of misspellings.  She, her dad and I lift our eyebrows on the rare occasions we encounter someone who spells it the same.

So Saturday, after I arrived home, still thinking about her, I dug a spoon into my cooling broth and perused one of the books I’d purchased at the book sale.  Two sentences into it, the main character’s name jumped out at me—my daughter’s name, spelled correctly.  Imagine that.  There I was strolling around alone at that festival, and she was with me all along.  

No doubt I'm going to like that book.

22 comments:

Maggie said...

Thank you for sharing your Christmas musings. Time changes things but sweet memories and sweet present are rich. You voices that so beautifully.

Old Kitty said...

Gosh, I am so intrigued with your daughter's name now! LOL!

Awwww it's brilliant how you've given her such memorable and magical past Christmasses for her to treasure! Take care
x

Yvonne Osborne said...

Oh, I love this story! Doesn't that give you the oddest feeling when that happens? There is no way to explain it. I had a similiar experience recently (though not about my daughter 300 miles away). I was writing a short story and named a character Germaine out of the blue. Names just come to me and I like the odd and different. I had NEVER known anyone with this name or even seen it before. The next night another 10 pages into Owen Meany, Irving introduced a character by the name of Germaine.

I hope you have a lovely Christmas with your college student. Just know that she's having the time of her life.

Colette Martin said...

Awww, so sorry you are missing your daughter. I hope you'll see her over the holidays!

Anne Gallagher said...

What a lovely serendipitous moment. I'm so homesick now after reading about the book sale at the church and the chowder at the other. We used to do that in LC too.

The Monster doesn't for one second believe that Santa is one of those men. She knows they are his helpers because he is so incredibly busy at the North Pole getting ready for his big night. However, she does know he comes on Christmas Eve. She's so sweet she even puts out carrots for the reindeer, because peppers give them gas you know, and you can't have farty reindeer.

Thanks for the memories. I'm now living vicariously through you.

Jan Morrison said...

That my deario is what we Buddhists would call an auspicious coincidence! And it is no coincidence it comes on the heels of missing your daughter. Her presence was well...present!
Lovely writing as usual.

missing moments said...

What a lovely post and surprise at the end of your day!

J. A. Bennett said...

What a sweet memory! I'm curious to know what your daughters name is, or what the book is :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

*goosebumps* That is the kind of anecdote I love to hear. She was with you all along.

Sharon said...

Coincidence? If so, how sweet. Strange how these things work, isn't it. Some of my Christmas memories came back to life reading your blog. I miss those times and treasure the memories, too.

Sharon said...

Coincidence? If so, how sweet. Strange how these things work, isn't it. Some of my Christmas memories came back to life reading your blog. I miss those times and treasure the memories, too.

Carol Kilgore said...

I love when things like that happen.
Your town sounds lovely :)

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

How cool! The universe and the power to give love and comfort never ceases to amaze me.
Your unique Christmas festival sounds fun. We still do the mall, but my wonderful husband stands in line while my nephew looks around in the video game store until right before it's time to see Santa. All of my nephews pictures are with the same Santa and I will miss the day when this part of his childhood is over.

Kathryn Magendie said...

This is just so lovely . . . and how wonderful the book is giving you joy - that is something that makes an author smile and the author of that book would smile knowing she brought you joy!

Bish Denham said...

OMG! That just gave me goosebumps all over my body.

Helen Ginger said...

Oh gracious, that made me choke up.

When my daughter was young, she did not like the way I spelled her name. She could never find trinkets or stuff with her name.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

What precious memories. It must have been so bittersweet to attend that festival. But what a sweet end to discover her unusually spelled name in a book. I wonder if just anyone would've appreciated that moment as you did? I think not. I think it says as much about you (and your positive outlook on life) as it does about fate.

On another note, I think I need to come live near you for a few months. Or years. It seems so magical to me.

Patricia Stoltey said...

You must miss your daughter so much. It's hard to give up those traditions we enjoyed with our kids.

Lydia Kang said...

Wow, how amazing that that happened!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Sounds like a wonderful tradition. So funny that you picked up that book was reminded for your daughter at the right time.

Arlee Bird said...

This sounds like a wonderful event. I'd love to have some of that clam chowder and baklava. I've grown accustomed to my kids being gone, but I sure do miss them.


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Linda Hoye talks about adoption and writing memoirs on
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Juliann Wetz said...

Beautiful post. I live in Ohio and my childhood Christmases were also filled with Santa arriving on a fire truck outside my aunt's house on Christmas Eve. We had so many wonderful traditions back then. Once Santa arrived, we went back inside, gathered around the piano, and sang Christmas carols. Great memories.