Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Day

Sunrise. Happy winter! Merry Christmas.

A funny thing happened on my way to the kitchen. I noted the stack of mail that has been accumulating on the table. Ed knows my (wimpy) rule: if weeks go by and the pile only grows, I sweep it all up and dump it in the mudroom. And so I start to gather up the papers, the envelopes and I notice that there ia a card stuck there in the pile. A lovely little thing with a message about Christmas and spending time with the one you love. I finish reading, put it down and think for a bit. Who would buy it  and then toss it aside like this?

I go upstairs and ask the pile maker himself. Amid shrugs, groans and boyish grins, Ed admits that maybe his good pal left it there the other day. Maybe so that he, Ed, would give it to me. That same pal who occasionally brings Ed a fresh t-shirt from the dollar bin because he knows Ed wont buy one himself so long as threads remain in the old ones and will only accept an off hand purchase from  his pal if he gets it from the dollar bin.

So, are you giving it to me? I smile at him, encouragingly.
Sure, it's yours.
Will you write that it's for me? Will you sign it like you sign emails? With LOVE spelled out in capitals? I hand him a pen.
Rueful grin, shrug, shy laughter.

I'm all smiles and laughter now as I walk away with a card from Ed. A sweet beginning to Christmas Day.

Hello, Day! Sunny and cold, the way a special winter day should be.

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sunrise, Christmas morning

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the east dormer of the farmhouse gets that orange glow -- and the icycles

We eat our two meals today at the kitchen table. I insist on it. With the lemon tablecloth to make things cheerful.

The first -- breakfast -- doesn't come around until 11:00, because I want to bake something and, of course, that takes time. An apple cake. Ever since I saw those lovely ones in a Paris shop window, I knew that this must be our holiday morning meal.  For Ed, anything with apples is a winner. For me, the smell of baking cinnamon is a gift in its own right.

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In the early afternoon, I stop by my daughter's for a last look at the big Christmas tree. She and her husband are making elaborate grilled cheese sandwiches. On this holiday, my girl gets ambitious in the kitchen.

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It's only in the teens outside, but the air is calm and the sun is radiant and it absolutely feels like skiing weather.

Where to? -- Ed asks.
Indian Lake! I say this without hesitation. It's my favorite place to cross country ski.
The trail with the big hill in the woods? If I break a leg, you're on your own for the trip.

We've done the trail plenty of times, but  it's only our second ski run this season and Ed is tentative on skis until, with time, he feels in control again. Still, the lure of a snow packed forest, of the lake itself in the light of an afternoon sun is tremendous. We throw the skiis into the rusted Geo and head out.

And it is a beautiful day for skiing.

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The trail is well groomed: you don't need much wax to pick up speed on a day like this. In the hills, the light starts to fade quickly in the afternoon -- which is at once beautiful and tricky on the eyes. Still, we have a splendid time.

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And when a tumble comes, it's not even on the big downhill slalom through the woods. It's on a gentle slope. Life is funny that way.

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But, we're intact -- no twists or broken bones! -- and we are rewarded with some of the most beautiful field and forest scenery.

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Toward the end of the run, we pass the sledders. Including this trio on an authentic bobsled. The light is almost gone, but I can still pick out the joy in the faces of the little ones.

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The moon begins its climb over the hills, the lake, frozen now, picks up the last colors of the setting sun.

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Indian Lake never disappoints.

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Back at the farmhouse, Ed buries himself under the old quilt. When you spend several hours outdoors on a day like this, it takes a while for your limbs to fully defrost. I turn to dinner preparations. Simple stuff: a roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, corn, salad. And yet, isn't it amazing how incredibly delicious a (free range) roasted hen can be?

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Such a day! If asked about Christmas, Ed would roll his eyes for sure. Yet, as I watch him take pleasure in the small things we do today, I have to say, that (hypothetical) eye roll is pretty meaningless.


I understand, every day I fully understand and appreciate how lucky we are to have this time  -- to ski, to eat good, fresh and honest meals in the warm old farmhouse. I know it. But I especially know it today, this evening. The children (not really children anymore) are tucked in somewhere safely, snugly, the dishes are put away, the feeling of contentment is complete.