When my good friend Wendy arrived from Texas the first week in December, I hadn’t a single indication of Christmas in my house. She bough me a beautiful living tree – in miniature, and I sort of looked around for ornaments that were the size of my little fingernail, or a tiny string of lights, the kind that Lego guys would string up – that size. It is still unornamented, but fresh looking.
That was the week that Paul, the publisher, kept hurling my manuscript back with red marked corrections and questions. I’d race through it and Wendy would view it calmly and catch what I missed, while making the kind of soothing murmurs you might use with a jittery pet. I ate my meals standing up – mostly soup that week. This was followed by the final proof or blueline. Then he sent an E-mail that the book – no longer the manuscript – had gone to the printer. Wendy flew home to Texas with my gratitude.
After she left, I remembered my glorious tree of lights, that isn’t a tree at all. I bought it from Vibrata nearly 10 years ago, and took it to Burningman twice, 2001, 2002 in those long-ago years I used to go. I restrung the lights recently and this year added another layer. So here it is, glowing and gleaming, and by next year the tree will have a circle of toys and a toddler, my beautiful granddaughter Oona Beatrix Haggerty.
As for the book that I’m supposed to have mailed out this week, it has not yet arrived. The printer is multiplying it, I’m told. UNTOLD. I think that soon large boxes will arrive outside my door and I will snap into action, stuffing pre-addressed Priority Mail envelopes each with its own $4.95 stamp; then racing to the post office to mail them to the patient friends who sent in their orders a while ago. For now I’m like the girl I saw at the mall today, alone on a bench looking at her phone, and still there 20 minutes later, hoping he’ll call… so her life can begin. He called! Books shipped December 24….
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, or as the Sufis say – a Shams-of-Tabriz-‘a-Clause who throws your book in the well, then asks if you want them returned just as they were. He can do that for you – or give you the secret of life. You chose.
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