There is a version of "We Three Kings" that is burned in my aural memory; It was a sixties-era Firestone Christmas album, the Ray Conniff Singers or the Norman Luboff Choir, back before I knew enough to recognize the Ost in those names. They poured on the sound in the third verse and I thought it was thrilling. I can still hear that, and still remember a time when the kings' day was the end of our Christmas holiday. Austria still observes these old rhythms; last night there were people out on the town just to enjoy Vienna's Christmas lights one more time.
Gifts arrived from afar yesterday, perhaps in honor of the old trio. Our niece contacted me over Google Chat to discuss an unexpected and exciting job offer that will take her to the job she wants in a city that excites her. A dear friend on Skype rejoiced over her rehearsals of a brand new role, one I helped her learn (if anyone helps this brilliant lady learn anything). And I sat in a cafe with a new, serendipitous acquaintance who unwittingly handed me part of myself I had misplaced. I see how overblown that looks as I write it, and yet it's the truth, unlikely and miraculous.
Holiday over, we all return to counting the days, simple stepping forward, freed from the dramatic arc of the two great holiday stories. Today we throw out the tree and put the cards away. I gather my gifts around me and step out into ordinary time, eyes on the sky.