Mr. Sandman

Something Wrong at the Yuletide?

There’s something wrong here.

It’s December, and I am not only jacketless, but wearing shorts. I lived four years in South Bend, Indiana�December is loss of sensation in the lower extremities.

The lights started going up here in Cape Canaveral a week before Thanksgiving, the citizens hanging tinsel in sandals and tank tops. They twined lights along palm tree trunks and set up giant inflatable snowmen in sun-burned yards.

It’s 24 degrees in South Bend right now and an SUV is currently skidding through snowbanks on the television set. I have the air conditioning on.

There is something very wrong here.

Or maybe not wrong, but different. (Approximately fifty degrees of difference.) I think I virtually met a fellow Midwesterner on the beach yesterday�or, rather, what he left behind�a snowman. It featured a carrot nose, sticks for arms, and a plastic cup hat…everything was in place. There were palm fronds on the sticks and the body was made of sand, but there it was: a snowman. It even melted away like the real thing when the tide rushed in.

Here the work of someone who felt something missing and took the materials before him to create the uncreatable.

Maybe something feels wrong to you this Christmas too. The world is full of lost loves, lost jobs, suddenly empty chairs. Light strands burn out and the turkey overcooks. The pressure for everything to appear Martha Stewart perfect is enormous, but when you’re working two jobs and the car payment is overdue, you aren’t going to find fulfillment making a centerpiece out of pinecones and chewing gum.

But for each of us, there is hope, and there is sand for snowmen. I’ll build one if you will.