Christmas & Magic

Well it’s frozen and cold in Canada, Friends.

The Bow River

I chased temperate climates for most of my twenties (save that one year in Boston.) But because I grew up in Minnesota, winter is familiar–like an old friend. I recognize its icy kiss, the way the air scrapes at your throat, the gust of heat when you walk through the door, and the way it’s almost impossible to get out of a hot shower, or worse–out of bed in the morning. I pretty much want to live under a soft blanket. You come to savor warmth in a kind of spiritual way.

Winter’s ok with me around the holidays. There are lights sparkling on the tree, and the house smells like evergreen and gingerbread, I splurge on a weekly hot apple cider, and I even love to hate the constant drone of Christmas Carols in every store.

My family loved tall fat trees–the biggest one we could possibly fit in the designated nook. It was such an event! getting the tree. Hauling the decorations out of the attic, blasting The Nutcracker on the stereo while we decorated, Dad getting out the step ladder so that we could reach the high branches, squabbling over which ornaments we got to hang.

As the days went by, we’d inspect the presents every morning, counting the packages with our names on them. Oh the mystery and wonder those wrapped packages held!

We helped Mom bake hundred of Gingersnaps–the secret family recipe, she’d always remind us.

We’d roll the batter into tiny balls then send them swimming in a sea of sugar.

Yes indeed, I was a glutton for gingersnaps.

Christmas was full of magic. Real beguiling magic that nearly made my little heart burst every Christmas morning, as I opened my bedroom door and found that first little present sitting in the doorway. My brother, sister and I convened in one of our rooms to inspect these first gifts from Santa while we waited for 7 AM when we were allowed to wake up Mom and Dad, and then ran full throttle for their door and jumped all over their bed and cried, “It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas!” before tearing into the stockings.

Then Dad would make us wait at the top of the stairs while he got the video camera and set the coffee brewing. “Dad!” we’d cry. “Huuuuurrryyyyy!!” Oh the sweet agony of that wait at the top of the stairs, heart a-fluttering.

Dad would walk over in his robe, eye peering through the video camera lens taunting us, “Did he come? Do you think he came, Kids?”

Then we’d practically tumble over each other as we ran down the stairs and beheld the mountain of gifts. “He came!” we squealed, “He came!”

Although Christmas traditions came and went, that morning was always the same. It was always just us, just ours–and yet everyone’s.

I often long for that magic feeling that intoxicated us on Christmas. Oh, I’ve found it in adulthood. On other continents, in random wanderings with friends, in the desert, in music, it showed up at our wedding, and it lives wild places. It’s not something you can hold onto, so you just have lay back and let it fall over you while it lasts.

I hope there are flurries of magic wherever you are.

Happy New Year

Love, Sky

Thanksgiving. And time.

Well, dear friends, I am back from Florida.

It was hard to leave.

And not just because I was turning in beaches and sun and sand and sunsets for freezing temperatures and snow.

 

I had to say goodbye to these sweet faces too.

I’m getting sentimental in my old age. Thanksgiving makes me all gooey with nostalgia.

The boat ride we’ve made a thousand times.

My brother still making the Christmas Card photo session impossible.

Mom, yet again, cooking the perfect bird.

I don’t mean to brag, but we had the best Thanksgiving ever. Every year, we eat with old family friends, the Spencers, and this year, we added another family we’ve known forever and ever, the Bassetts. I’m doubly lucky because the eldest Bassett Peter married my cousin/best friend Meghan, and they brought their four-month old son, Gunnar.

I couldn’t stop thinking: aren’t we the luckiest?

The tradition was in full effect, with Ed’s fine wines flowing in abundance.

And each of us writing what we’re thankful for on a colored feather to add to the turkey.

Construction paper turkey with our Thanksgiving musings pictured here.

Plus, we had Gunnar. The cutest baby of all time.

Doesn’t this face just melt your heart?

There was a sing along to The Circle of Life. And then, dancing…

 

Also, this happened.
Surfin’ USA was playing!
In Florida, we’re all within walking distance. People would pop by for a glass of wine, a walk, a chat. You know those times when you are acutely aware of how happy you are? Doing something that’s nothing–like playing bocce or Smashball or just sitting around after the sun’s gone down–that’s really everything?

Or eating ice cream.

Maddy’s blissful anticipation of this bite just makes me smile.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time.

Bingo is one of Boca Grande’s hottest nightlife activities.

About how I’m two years older than my mom was when she flew to Boca for the first time with me, six months old, in her arms.

Look at Pat’s concentration. So heavy he can barely sit up.

About how even though our parents still refer to us as “the kids,” we’re really not anymore.

Dancing to the Boca Bande: my dad’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition.

It’s crazy how the years add up.

Please note hippie right behind me and Dan.

Dan and I had dinner with another couple on Friday and we talked about this–time, that is. She said when we’re kids we’re anticipating growing up, and so time stretches out and feels so long, like we’ll never get there. Once we’re grown, we ache for it to slow down, to remain where we are, and thus, it feels too fast.

He said that if all our days are the same, time races by. If we do things–adventures big or small–if something major happens–a big move, a life event–time slows down.

Indeed, Dan asked me if I felt like this year had gone fast. I told him no. Last Christmas seems ages ago. This year was full of new things–a new landscape, new adventures… a new life.

Sometimes I wish there was a sunset that lasted forever. Where we would sit on our beach chairs, with a glass of my dad’s cheap chardonnay and listen to him tell us it was most definitely a green flash kind of night, and watch as the sun just hovered there, the earth refusing to turn.