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