At the end of another hectic day out, I sat down in the living room late Sunday evening in front of our Christmas tree, a gaily decorated evergreen glowing with white lights and encircled by Spark’s train, a model taking a much needed break following an overnight visit from our grandchildren Miles, Reed and Phoebe.

After we took them back to St. Louis, we ran a few errands, then went to dinner and a movie to celebrate Spark’s Christmas-season birthday. Later, dragging our tails home, my heart felt strangely heavy.

I tried to put my finger on what was bothering me. I thought about change and how hard it is, no matter how welcome the opportunity and possibilities. Last week, Spark retired after 51 years at the company where he’s worked since he was 20. Do the math. I certainly have been. We’re getting older. The thought ushers in worries that swirl like flakes in a winter blizzard.

Christmas Future popped into my head. What would the next holiday season bring, and the next and the one after that? Fortunately, I didn’t stay there long because I started writing, laptop at the ready to free me from my doldrums.

From my vantage spot, a glimpse at some photographs across the room ushered in Christmas Past, lovely memories brimming with sentiments.

On top of the bookshelf right next to the tree, I always set out a holiday collection of silver frames holding photos of our grandchildren on Santa’s lap, taken from the time they were babies, up until the boys refused to take part in the annual activity.

One is especially cute — a picture of Miles, our oldest grandson, now 11, just a toddler back then, decked out in a Santa Claus hat. How well I recall that day, and the pictures I took trying to get a good shot for Rebecca, his mom, to use for their family’s first Christmas card.

Fast forward to Christmas season present, well almost present. Right before Miles went to bed on Saturday, he spit out a huge molar. It was rather shocking to observe, and to explain — “A new tooth will sprout in the spot and he’ll have it for life, until he gets as old as his PaPa and me,” I told his little sister, Phoebe, who was amazed to have witnessed the sight, and a bit grossed out because a spot of blood ensued.

In our kitchen, where Miles once played with lids, spatulas and plastic cups, stood a lanky boy nearly as tall as I am, but one who’s still a little kid at heart. I think he expected the tooth fairy to swing by later, but the old slump forgot. You can’t put your trust in Grandma tooth fairies, perhaps you never could.

But you can count on this Mee Mee to press a fiver in her grandson’s hand the next morning as she was hugging him goodbye.

Time doesn’t stand still for the real tooth fairy either. She knows about inflation and realizes times have changed. But you can bet she doesn’t zing her wings worrying about the future, or pining for the past. There’s way too much to do, pearly teeth to polish and refit in babies who will soon grow into young men, and women.

No matter how old I get, I find it frustrating to constantly need reminders to stay in the day. You’d think I’d have learned this lesson by now. This Wednesday, what I’d like to do more than anything, is to joy in Christmas Present with its blessings, wonder, merriment, and most importantly love and hope — the hope a star signifies, a glow of warm light ever beckoning us to believe, to trust in something too all-encompassing for us to possibly understand.