Some of the light is came back. This winter’s solstice was here. There were also a couple of feet of snow brightening the landscape for Christmas. The woods were all ready for the postcard photos. And then on Christmas Eve the sun was out all day long doing its thing with the shine and glitter. Now, tonight I can hear an owl calling. John shoveled a path to the chicken house and I walk it now, listening to our owl and sharing this cold night with him.
The dogs didn’t want to come with me. They think it’s too cold for midnight walks under cold stars. The sky is brimming over with twinkly lights and I can see our tree inside where it’s warm and our cheery little fire goes to sleep. This little moment, two days late, feels finally and especially like Christmas.
Christmas seemed in a hurry this year. I chased it everywhere, but it was always just ahead of me. We ran down to NYC which is the shiny city that thinks it invented Christmas. They have the biggest tree and the brightest crystal stars. Carols are piped into the streets from Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. The bell ringers are on nearly every corner and you can’t help but feel dazzled especially when the cold makes you duck in here and there for a little cocoa or holiday grog. We ate our way through the city and everyone got a new ornament for the tree in the Christmasy Union Square Market. I was always in some line or other with kids calling me on their cell phones to tell me we had to move the car, or that the cabbie couldn’t wait forever. I couldn’t seem to catch my breath and just listen to the bells. St Patrick’s Cathedral got by me this year, and so did the windows at Macy’s. We had dinner with an old friend one night which was lovely, but some of us were too tired or full or something to see our annual movie. We piled into the kid’s room instead and rented one at the hotel. Before you knew it we were hurrying home to finish up the holiday in Vermont with the critters under our tree and a big fire in the hearth. But first I had dozens of cookies to bake and lots of presents to wrap. I love wrapping presents with carols piped into my bedroom. But this year there is a ping pong table in there that Eli bought as a present to the whole family. Yes, in our bedroom. It is 9 feet long and about 5 feet wide, and our big romantic bedroom holds it nicely so long as all our lovely furniture is moved hither and yon. It is an abomination made for tournament level play, (just imagine the kind of thing you would want if you decided to take on the whole Chinese nation and you will begin to get the idea). Of course it doesn’t fit anywhere else, and I may be afflicted with a permanent tic from balls passing inches from my face on an almost hourly basis, and stealthy teenagers slipping in for a quiet midnight game whilst we will supposedly or hopefully stay asleep. So I wrapped with little balls whizzing around and the sounds of cheering and the occasional errant paddle hurling through the air. Fa la la….
We exchanged one sweet gift on Christmas Eve over pink sparkly wine, and then spent the next morning listening to carols and opening gifts while we ate the nut roll that came from a recipe John’s Grandmother brought here from Czechoslovakia seven or eight decades ago.
I love it when we are all together. All three dogs and the cat stayed in the library with us and played in the wrappings while we opened presents and listened to Eli play his new guitar. There were fat peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate, and Roshkie smothered in powered sugar. There was a ham and gobs of deviled eggs donated by the girls in the yard, next to piles of fragrant cheeses. It was sweet and festive, but it sure seemed to get here quick and it flew right by me the whole time.
But now, a couple of days later, after some five hundred rounds of ping pong, loud new rock n roll chords echoing through the house, and a good old book in my lap that my husband must have found when we snuck into the Strand for a fast run through while the kids got more hot chocolate, just now finally it is starting to feel like Christmas. I got a new Ipod and have bunched all my favorite Christmas tunes together in a playlist made especially for me. The smell of pine is strong and the kids have settled into a routine of Taboo with us every night. We are a competitive bunch and we yell and scream and laugh those loud snorting laughs. You can’t use your hands, and I am apparently unable to speak without mine, so I sort of wriggle and writhe and my husband stands behind me and amuses the kids with his impersonation apparently. I got a peak of him in the reflection in the window so I finally figured out why the laughs were so loud during my turns.
Screaming and laughing, a little rock and roll with balls whizzing through the air, a good book, a snowy owl and a few stars after the calendar quieted down was all it took for Christmas to finally get to Vermont. Now I just need to figure out how to get it to stay…