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Grasshopper Soup: It’s all about the present

Bob Sweigert
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE, Calif. and#8212; Only 362 more shopping days and#8216;till Christmas! What? Christmas was last week?

I didnand#8217;t start gift shopping until three days before Christmas. Three more days of avoiding crowded stores would have been perfect, but I made out like a bandit anyway. I probably wouldnand#8217;t have shopped at all if there wasnand#8217;t so much magic in the air.

I donand#8217;t do malls at Christmas, and I donand#8217;t force myself to come up with gift ideas, because that is not what the holiday is all about. I am happy just to get someplace where someone else does the cooking, and where people are loved for the gift they are.

Have you ever noticed how the air seems to come alive the closer you get to Christmas day? Thereand#8217;s a special sparkle in the air, like a positive electric charge. Growing gradually, it culminates on Christmas morning. It touches everyone, no matter where they are. If it were only nostalgia I could reproduce the feeling any day of the year. No. Something entirely different happens on Christmas morning. It is not of human origin.

The Christmas feeling grew as I walked through Tahoe City. With complete trust and surrender I opened my heart. Thatand#8217;s when the image came to me. Candles! The idea was so strong it knocked bottles of wine and six packs of beer (or showing up empty handed to dinner) out of first and second place. Yes, my Christmas had come to that.

So, I bought candles for everyone, starting at Mother Natureand#8217;s Inn in Tahoe City, where beautiful things abound, including the ladies who knew where to find the candles. They found a perfect little red, green and white striped Christmas candle, tied with a silver bell, and put it in a box wrapped with colorful paper and the longest, curliest green and red ribbons youand#8217;ve ever seen. It was simply beautiful.

Those fine ladies gave themselves completely to my search as if they had lit the candle in my head so I would go to their store. The next day I hit Save-Mart and bought 10 more candles. My entire Christmas shopping sojourn took less than 20 minutes. I never went to the mall or had to deal with any traffic. I spent less than $30 for candles for seven people, who can now let their little light shine even more.

We come gift wrapped in mountain air, carried in a sturdy box of mountains, tied with ribbons of sunlight, snow and stars. The Lake of the Sky hangs around us like a big silver bell, an ornament to go with our giving. Hear the bell. Follow the light.

Whatand#8217;s done is done. To remember past wrongs is to lose the moment. The present is best lived by giving ourselves to whatever life gives us. The memory of old wrongs is the bare bottom of a black, smoldering wick. Only love can prepare us for our flame to die.

Christmas isnand#8217;t always a bowl of cherries. Our holiday spirit will be put to the test when that loud mouth relative, who likes to drink beer, smoke, slam doors, cuss, throw things and hit people, shows up unannounced, again, and proceeds to drink, smoke, cuss, throw things and hit people. We love him because he makes us all look so good.

Now, picture yourself headed south to Big Sur for the 35th annual Whale Watching and Camping Society bash at Kirk Creek campground. Thatand#8217;s where I am right now.

The early founders of the society often begin festivities as early as Christmas day. Any time the following week, singing, guitars, mandolins, gut buckets, tent posts, any thing that will make a noise, can break out and last all night. A wide variety of good cheer and celebration guarantees that many a whale will swim by without any of us ever knowing.

Picture yourself asleep in a tent pitched on a cliff at the edge of the continent. Thatand#8217;s where I will be tonight.

Since Christmas is all about the present, I may just stay there.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 28 years.


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