I have a new hat. It was a Christmas present. I’ve been wearing my new hat on my winter-morning walk at Compo Beach. It’s a nice, warm hat, and to look at it you would think it was just another knitted hat.
But this is a special hat because my grandson Alex made it for me. I knew he learned to knit this year – his second year at college — and I saw a couple of things he made, but I was taken by surprise to open his gift to find my new knitted hat.
At the Christmas Eve services I read a poem I titled, “A Golden Christmas.” I penned this poem about 25 years ago; it’s about an 85-year old woman sitting alone in the New Hampshire house where she was born and lived her whole life. It’s Christmas Eve and she’s sitting by an old wood stove with a fire crackling, and a gray cat sitting beside her on a braided rug, and she’s knitting a hat for her grandson. The hat she’s knitting is black with a gold pattern woven through it.
The hat Alex made for me is dark green – nearly black – with a light green/yellow pattern woven through it.
He had never seen my poem, so when I opened his gift I was stunned. I like the reversal of roles – the grandson is doing the knitting.
The first morning I wore my new hat and said good morning to the usual walkers at Compo Beach I wanted to stop them and tell them about the new hat I was wearing. I wanted to tell them that my grandson knit it for me, and I wanted to tell them about the poem with the 85-year old woman sitting alone in her New Hampshire house, remembering all those Christmas Eves, especially when she was a child, helping to cut the tree and decorate it, and feeling so excited about the stockings that were ‘hung by the chimney with care,’ and the brightly colored presents waiting to be opened.
But I didn’t stop to tell my fellow travelers along the Compo Beach walk. We know one another by sight, not by name. We don’t know the stories behind the knitted hats, scarves and mittens. We don’t know about one another’s grandchildren. We don’t know about one another’s joys and sorrows, the wonderful surprise gifts and the difficult losses.
This morning, as I walked along Compo for the last time in 2007, I thought about my new hat and decided I’d tell you about it. I knew you’d appreciate it, and I know you can relate to it because you’ve had some special gifts, too. And you move from the old year to the new one, feeling a sense of appreciation for what has been – for the Big Gift – and you, too, wonder what the New Year will bring.
Thanks for the holiday card and the year-in-review letter. Thanks for the contribution to the Ministers’ Discretionary Fund and your continuing financial support to the church. Thanks for the feedback, the encouragement and the hugs. I hope it’s a good year for you and your loved ones. I look forward to sharing more steps along the Big Walk. Take care.