“Merry Christmas,” she sings out across the lane line as PP turns at the wall. It’s Scraping Walker Woman, happy and buoyant in the water now, wishing good cheer.
“Merry Christmas,” she sighs, her round dark eyes a mixture of resignation and knowing; she wraps her towel round her ample mounds as PP leaves the Sauna. “For one week, we have no Sauna,” she’d bemoaned, yet not letting this loss stifle her holiday spirit.
“Merry Christmas!” they all holler into Utopia between giggles, as DL and PP smile in rapt delight. Three generations of Ethiopian Women, grandma, daughter, granddaughter, all rubbing sea salt on their rich dark skin, their faces masked in green avocado salad.
“How do you say “Merry Christmas in Ethiopian?” PP asks. They tell her, too fast, between more giggles. PP doesn’t even try to repeat it.
“It comes one week after,” the granddaughter tells PP, as DL takes some Sea Salt from their favorite Green Mask Woman.
"It feels nice," DL murmurs as she slowly rubs it into her rich olive skin.
“Merry Christmas!” PP hears one woman to an old friend, as she dresses in the locker room at Hilltopia after her swim.
“Merry Christmas,” her friend replies, warmth and song in her tone.
“My sister, she at home," the first woman explains, "she can’t believe that I come here to the Y on Christmas, but I tell her why not? All I do is sit at home. Doing nothing. At least here I do something.”
Warm Song Friend laughs, “Your sister doesn’t know how addicted we are!” They both laugh together; it's all music now.
Merry Christmas, PP thinks to herself as she sits in her loft later in the afternoon, wearing Grandma Birdie’s pink fluffy sweater, remembering those Christmas mornings so long ago when Birdie and her sister Aunt Tea were already there, arriving way before the sun came up, to surprise PP and her two sisters on Christmas morning. The smell of PP’s Mother’s homemade Cinnamon Christmas bread later wafting through the air after the presents had been rifled through, the paper strewn all over the carpet in front of the Christmas tree, Birdie and Tea tired but happy as they drink coffee and sample the sumptuous bread.
And so, PP wishes you and all of yours a Merry Christmas. May you swim, laugh, eat and love this holiday.
And go ahead, wish a stranger “Merry Christmas” when you’re out and about this holiday season. You don't have to be in the Pool, but if you are, all the better!