Snow for Christmas

img_5796

We wish for it every year, but it rarely arrives. We have rain. Or wind. Or spring-like temperatures. We typically wake in the dark and gradually see the world wake up to whatever weather graces us. But snow? Doesn’t happen.

It looks like this year, however, we will have snow for Christmas. Yesterday it snowed all day. I spent the day in a meeting room, having many conversations, all of them with snow falling behind me. Perhaps I should have sat in the opposite chair. I could have watched the snow.

When I got home we went for a walk in the dark. The snow still fell heavily. It was light, fluffy, scattering in clouds when we kicked at it. It coated our hats. It squeaked underfoot. The trees wore it. The woods were quiet. Back home we took a sled run or two, shoveled off the porch, filled the bird feeders.

This morning snow coated the field. Late morning it started to rain. It rained most of the day, sometimes just a drizzle, sometimes heavily. But the snow stuck around. There was enough of it. Just before dark it started to snow again. With everything wet from the rain, the snow easily adhered. Branches are white again.

More snow is in the forecast for Monday. There is a winter storm watch for Christmas day. We are looking to get up to eight inches. We had hoped to go see the new Star Wars movie that afternoon. We may have to scratch that. We don’t really want to drive in heavy snow. And if we have that much snow, why go anywhere? We can stay home and ski and sled and romp.

Christmas is only two days away, so the forecast is likely to be fairly, if not totally, accurate. Still, I have my doubts, only because I can hardly believe it. A white Christmas, even here in northern Vermont, is a rare thing these days. I am afraid we will have fewer and fewer of them. But if we get one this year, I’ll take it. In fact, I’ll hoot about it and run around in the snow in pajamas. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Advertisements

Christmas at Home

We celebrate Christmas in our house. And boy do we gear up for it. The weekend after Thanksgiving we get a tree (a fir, cut from the tree farm down the road) shove into the van and set it up. By December 1st we have a trimmed tree, lights up, holiday themed dishware out on the table and more to come.

By Christmas Eve, we are ready to go–gifts wrapped, holiday music playing, a full refrigerator, stockings hung, festive as can be. So by Christmas morning the anticipation is pretty high. We spent the tail end of Christmas Eve at my sister-in-law’s place and so did not get home until later than the usual bedtime. Not that it mattered. Our kids were so excited that they had a hard time falling asleep. My son did not fall asleep until at least 11:00. He woke up around 4:00. He had the crazy idea that 4:00 was the time to get up and head downstairs. We had to put him off until 5:00. It was an early morning.

We had stockings stuffed with small gifts and opened those gifts first. We took a break for a waffle breakfast. We had a fire in the woodstove that heated things up fast–temperatures were in the forties. Some snow stayed on the ground at least. We had a lot of snow but then had two days of rain to wash most of it away. It was patchy Christmas morning but it was there at least. We opened gifts throughout the morning and early afternoon, trying to make it last. It is a pretty special day.

I took a short walk after our afternoon dinner. The breeze felt warm and clouds drifted across the gray sky. The water in the river was high with all the melted snow. Fields were flooded. A crescent moon dangled behind the clouds. The road was muddy. It was quiet. I thought about how this day is about giving and love and it made me want to simplify my life, get to what matters most more often.

The kids were asleep early. My daughter resisted the idea of going to bed earlier than usual, but she conked out pretty much immediately. My wife and I stayed up for a while, enjoying the quiet and the lights. We felt like successful parents, fostering the joy of the day, creating memories and all that. It turned out to be magical for all of us. After we turned out the lights and said goodnight to the tree, we headed to bed. It didn’t take long for us to conk out ourselves.

IMG_5587

Holiday Pics

My daughter was awake at 3:30 AM this morning. I gave her the good news that it was after midnight. I also gave her the bad news that she had to wait a few hours to get up for the day. We took a peek at the gifts laid out, then back to bed. She managed to fall asleep for about an hour between then and 5:30. Then she was up for the day. Her brother was not so stimulated. He was conked out until 5:45 when she went to “check on him.” Then we all were down by the Christmas tree, ogling the booty.

We unwrapped, with some restraint, for a couple of hours. We had some scattered breakfast. We ate candy. We took photos. And then it was play time. The children looked at books and did an art project and had some rescue pretending, among other things. Then they went outside and now we are ready for some apple pie. That was a special request from the early riser. That was easy enough to provide. Plus, it means I can eat pie as well.

The day is young and we have much play time to come. There may even be a bath involved, to test out the toy shark cage. Only a huge snowstorm could make this day better. Merry Christmas.

Heading Downstairs in the Dark

Loot

A Little Chaos

Ah, December

It is finally cold. Waiting for the bus is a chilly experience. The puddles are skimmed with ice. The wind bites. I wear my orange knit hat out and about. The woodstove radiates.

Holiday music plays everywhere. Too much of it is twangy countrified versions of holiday classics.  Who needs that crap? I guess lots of people like it, however.  Who am I to judge poor taste?

Snow flurries keep spitting. One of these days we will get a full on storm with real snow. Ideally this happens before teh 25th. We celebrate that winter holiday in this house. And the solstice.  I have been rising early to run still. These days it is pretty dang dark when I do so. Porch lights are on and my headlamp gets as much a workout as I do. I might have to have a big old party to celebrate the solstice this year.

I have these slip-on boots from L.L. Bean that I wear in the winter pretty much every day. One of them has a big old tear in it.  I should have sent them back this summer but who remembers winter boots in the summer? I still should send them back. I bet they would replace them. They did rip unexpectedly. It’s not like a was jumping over a barbed wire fence or something. I noticed it walking down our driveway. Not a high impact activity. What will I do without my boots? I have missed them lately.

The year has just about wrapped up. I might start thinking about resolutions so I am prepared when January hits. Blog every day? Run a marathon? Read some book I have wanted to read? I’ll think about that later. I want to think about doing good deeds this month, and giving gifts to those I love, and baking desserts. Chocolate covered lemon cake anyone?

Now that would be the way to celebrate the season, baby.

On the Lake for a Week

Leaving the Island, Heading Home, Looking Back

Leaving the Island, Heading Home, Looking Back

When I was in high school I read an essay called Return to the Lake.  I remember that it was a good read, although I couldn’t tell you who wrote it, and I remember that I, along with some other folks, visited Lake Winnepesaukee soon after reading it.  The essay was essentially about visiting, as an adult, a lake that had had meaning when the writer was younger.  I returned to my own lake this past week.

We all went, this nuclear family of mine.  We swam and swam and ate and swam some more.  My children love the place, that place being Three Mile Island Camp.  It is an Appalachian Mountain Club camp where I worked twenty years ago.  I loved it then.  It had a huge impact on my life.  It still is pretty good.

We stayed in a couple of tiny adjacent rustic cabins right on the lake.  I got up every morning, looked out at the still water for ten minutes or so, laid my glasses on the dock, and slipped into the water.  I felt cool and calm.  Some mornings I swam with loons.  One morning I swam in the rain.  Then I climbed back to the small porch and waited for my wife and my children to waken.

We had little to do all day.  Meals are prepared by the staff and they do the clean-up.  The cabins have no electricity, although the main house where family style meals are served does.  We played and swam and rested and spent time with friends.  We ate at the appropriate times.  When it rained we hung out on the porch and drank tea and chatted while the children played games inside.  Life is pretty good like that.

Home today we cranked out laundry and mowed the lawn and picked the abundant vegetables from out garden.  Check this out:

A Few Veggies Ripe After a Week

A Few Veggies Ripe After a Week

We ate salad and corn on the cob (local but not ours) and blueberries (we even had some of those ripe!) and veggy burgers for dinner.  We looked out over the field and decided it is as good as looking out over a lake.  It was hot.  If we were still on the lake we would have just jumped in the drink to cool off.

The air has cooled now.  The children are off to bed early.  I am happy to be home.  I could have stayed longer but, like Christmas, experiencing it only once every year increases its appeal and its value.  If we lived there year round we couldn’t have this amazing garden.  We will return next year to swim and to play and to rest.  We have some of that to do around here in the remaining days of summer.  And a little work to do as well.

Once we get enough work done, we can return to the lake once again.  And we will love being there all over again.

Christmas Tree Still Up

January 9.  The Christmas tree is still standing.  Decorated no less.  That’s 42 days it has been indoors.  Dead no less.  It will come down this weekend, tomorrow or the next day.  So it will get at least 43 days of glory, dressed in the best we could offer–shiny glass and steel and plastic.  But it will be a fire hazard soon, if it ever wasn’t one.

Now we will have a little more space in the house.  And we will use a little less electricity.  But it has been nice to have around.  Maybe we can put something else in its place.  A basket of fruit?  A cardboard cutout of Chewbacca?  A bean bag chair?  Maybe a pile of attractive rocks?

Nah.  Let’s just get this thing out of here.  Come spring it will fertilize the blueberries.  No need to waste a perfectly good untrimmed Christmas tree, no?

Second Christmas

We just came back from a trip down south, to Connecticut.  I grew up there and my parents and some siblings and other relatives live there, so we visited for our second Christmas.  Every year my parents host Christmas the weekend after the “real” Christmas.  This has several benefits:

1. Those of us with various family wings can worry less about the conflict of who to see.  In our house we have decided that Christmas Day we do not travel.  We stay at home, share gifts, have a fine dinner and play.  We do not, however, have to worry about a long drive, so Christmas Eve we can see my in-laws.

2. Those of us who work where there are no true holidays (my mother and brother work for a nursing home) can offer to work so someone else can take the day off.  This feels pretty good and is a great gift.

3. We can do things for others.  My sister, for example, volunteered at a homeless shelter on Christmas.

4. If we have procrastinated, and we have enough of a buffer, we can get some steals on post-holiday sales.

I admit that I have not taken advantage of this last one, but still, it could happen.

We had a good long day for our second Christmas.  It felt like a major bonus for our children who got more gifts from Santa and all their various relatives on my side of the family.  We ate together and laughed and had a generally grand time.  Three of my four siblings were there (the other lives on the west coast) so it was a full house.

But wait, there’s more.  On Sunday we made another full day of it.  We took the children to the museums in Springfield, Massachusetts, just over the state line.  Somehow we managed to hit it right and got to wander the science museum just before a puppet show began.  It was put on by a traveling performance group and was targeted at children.  It was a hit.  We had time to check out the Dr. Seuss sculptures (he was born and lived in Springfield) one more time before heading home.

We had some time before heading out to Friendly’s for dinner.  This was a treat for the children, really.  They got to eat french fries AND ice cream sundaes.  What could be better?  It was actually the same establishment where I had my first paycheck job (I had paper routes before that), flipping burgers and manning the frialator.  Ah, the times I remembered.

Then, the finale to the day, we went to the Connecticut Trolley Museum for their winter fest event.  The place was decked out in holiday lights, including lights across all the power poles on the trolley lines.  Four trolleys ran the out and back route, under the lights.  It looked like a tunnel of color in the darkness.  When they switched the power pole on top of the trolley to go from one direction to the other, we were all in the dark.  No one working said anything about this, at least not right away, so everyone was quiet.  It was peaceful, fitting for the season.

My son was a huge fan of the exhibit hall, where two trolleys are indoors and a dozen or so electric train and trolley sets zoom in their loops.  There were trains of all sizes and they were dressed in holiday garb.  One train looped through Santa’s village with elves and snow and workshops and all.  Sure, I was pretty into it as well.  And it was festive.  A woman with a guitar sang carols, lights decked the hall, and several Christmas trees glowed in the corners.  There were kids all about and everyone seemed to be having a blast.

Back home today, after a long drive, we have to settle into post-Christmas.  We have some things to put away, some things to assemble, and some things to recycle.  We have a task list for the rest of our holiday break, and some good friends on the way in a couple of days.  Lots to do, lots to enjoy, lots to think about.  Both Christmases were as good as they get.  And two is enough.