It has hung on that wall for over one hundred years. Each new owner of the old, dignified and somewhat decrepit house has agreed to leave it where it is; hanging in the entry hall. Day in and day out it chimes the hour, tick tocks the moments and gathers dust. Some of the dust, deep in its walnut crevices is as old as the clock. The wood has been both buffed and nourished with bee’s wax, lemon oil and in more recent years, spray bottles of Pledge. The keys have been turned by hands young and old; clean and soiled; caring and dutiful. The etched glass of its cover was finely detailed with tiny holly leaves and berries with bits of Christmas ivy intertwined.
The humans who live with the clock have long sense taken it for granted. It is there. It ticks. It chimes. It marks the days, hours and minutes of their lives, as it does what it was designed to do. The clock is aware of the passing of time as it reverberates with chimes each hour but the humans who live in its house often forget time is fleeting. They foolishly assume they and theirs will live forever. The clock knows that is not true and tries to remind the human with each tick tock and each chime.
Except for an occasional draft blowing in with the opening of the ancient front door, the clock knows little of the weather. Neither does it understand what the home’s inhabitants are experiencing. The clock knows no pain. It knows no suffering or need. The clock has no need for money or pain from lack of it. The “health” of the clock as it chimes the days away, is unchanging. It’s ticking is the rhythm, the pulse, of the house.
The occupants of the house experience love as they marry, moving into the house as newlyweds, giddy on wedding wine and love’s expectations. Through the years they wilt into comfort and expand their love to include running children, crying babies and scampering pets. Sometimes life is good, as the clock ticks on the wall; sometimes life displays signals of pain as with the sobbing of a young mother, worried about a sick child. At other times the clock knows joy as the house is filled with the raucous laughter of revelers for a family gathering, an anniversary or a birthday party replete with hats, horns and burning candles.
These mere mortals who inhabitant the home with the clock experience times of pain when Jimmy breaks his leg; when Dad loses his job or when an elderly grandmother is suddenly left a widow. Sons go off to war and most return safely home. The clock doesn’t understand the meaning of all of this as it ticks away the hours, keeping time in this house of humans, who are frail and expendable.
During the holiday season the home is filled with the fragrance of pine sap, rich and pungent. Early on, harpsichord music filled the air with “OH, CHRISTMAS TREE,” to be replaced years later by the lilting scratches of a record player with its megaphone speaker. Stereos, then CD players filled the home with the rhythms of the season. Sometimes the songs were silly like “I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS” and “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MY TWO FRONT TEETH.” The clock felt a kinship to the music, the rhythm and the tone.
Some of the humans who lived in the house celebrated the season by baking delicious breads and an eight armed candleholder called a menorah. Some of these candleholders were ornate brass or gold while others were simply made and modest. All were accompanied with ceremony, emotion and respect for the season of Hanukkah.
The inhabitants came, they lived for awhile, and then they either moved on or were no more. Someone always kept the clock wound so it could do its duty, keeping time, chiming the hours of the lives of those who chose this house with the Christmas clock.
Illness had often entered through the door, its days passed by the chiming of the clock. One young father fell to the floor clutching his chest; another small child limped her way through life after a bout of polio. The tapping of a cane, replaced years later by the squeaking of the wheels of a wheelchair was often accompanied by the sobbing of those who suffered or those who helplessly watched and loved. Yet, in spite of the sounds of human suffering, joyful sounds and laughter still rang louder throughout the walls as the clock continued to tick, tock, tick, tock.
The frailty of human life with its beginnings and its ends was observed by the clock, yet it did not change. Time marched on as did illness, injury and suffering; always it was accompanied by joy, hope and caring. It all began to mix with the chiming as life passed by to the tune of the beautiful holly etched, walnut clock, tick, tock, tick, tock.