Christmas is almost here. Isn’t it still autumn? No. Or time to baste the turkey? No. Didn’t we just elect the first black president of the United States? Yes—a year ago. Sentimental carols, endless commercials urging us to buy NOW, countdowns to the last shopping day, ubiquitous (and sometime raggedy) Santas. The scent of pine and spruce. Like Proust’s madeleines and hot tea brought back memories of days spent with his aunts, the scent of Christmas trees on a crowded lot brings memories back to me: my first bicycle, my sister and I dancing to Johnny Mathis in front of our Christmas tree (“sleigh bells rings, are you listening’?”), days spent shopping for my son and hiding presents in plain sight, waking up before dawn, wrapping paper strewn over the floor, flames dancing in the fireplace, sticky buns and grits soufflés, hot cider, kisses under mistletoe.
Do your remember when you were a kid and crazy cartoon characters threw clocks in the air, insisting time flew? Those cartoons were funny. How could time fly? How could a clock, ticking or otherwise, sprout wings? If throwing a clock into the air made time fly, then shouldn’t we have been able to stretch our hands and catch that damn clock, stop it if need be, turn back time?
What time, what year would you turn your clock to? A special birthday, the birth of a child, the year you made the decision to move or stay, the day you proposed or accepted marriage, the day you said the words and broke up with your one true love? Would you turn your clock back to an age when you thought you knew everything, but didn’t? Would you take all the wisdom gained, that one glimpse into the future, and use it like a crystal ball to change your life?
I haven’t the slightest idea what I would change if I went back in time, or maybe I do, but I chose not to ponder those moments long gone. The past is dust, a good friend once told me. And so it is.
These days, I prefer to concentrate on the moment. Sitting in a living room in Austin with good writers and great friends, salsa dancing in my bare feet, sipping good wine, yakking on the phone with girlfriends, driving ninety miles an hour–music blasting on the stereo, watching the rain beat against my window, spending Thanksgiving with my son, feeling the heat of the sun on my face, standing by a Christmas tree lot breathing in the scent–full and green and timeless. I prefer to concentrate on and enjoy the minutes of my life. They are sweeter, fruitful; dreams tucked into seconds, so that when time flies I have felt those moments before they turn into hours, days and years and know how blessed I am.