these last few days

Posted by Daniela Elza on Dec 28 2008

We are not big on Christmas, but the collective anxiety and stress into, around, and through December does seem to rub off. The shortest, and still shortening days through most of December do not help either. The Christmas jingles in every store, restaurant, coffee house also do not go unnoticed. In fact, they could be unnoticed, until the moment they float to consciousness, when it becomes near impossible to ignore them and not to be aware of them. Not being aware of something does not mean you are not seeing it, absorbing it, learning it.

So December is the time of year when I can burst into some Christmas tune, unconsciously, while washing dishes. Or while chopping some innocent vegetable.s, or while not writing christmas cards. (I have to apologize for that, but this year that is how life was. Some years I have been known to send out 50 or more, which I hope makes up for the years that I do not have the luxury to write detailed accounts, on cards drawn by my children, and individually decorated, i.e.when I do not have this time as vacation).

Ok, back to the Christmas songs. After I have started singing, it takes me a bit to realize that this cheerful and care free outburst is in fact a Christmas tune, and one that you cannot get out of your head. One that has got you instead. If I do not realize that, my kids are surely quick to remind me.

And then the startle, and a kind of horror grips me. Who is in charge here? That I do not even have the freedom to unconsciously sing what I wish? This should give you an idea of what December feels like to me.

But then comes the Solstice, with its promise for light. This year we missed the Festival of Lights, where we walk with lanterns, and other light sources, along the water to a fire display that ends up with lighting a sun and hot chocolate etc. I swear, it almost feels lighter after that. We seriously undermine these moments. This year few were willing to trudge through the snow, and there was a lot of it.
A couple of days after, on the 23rd is our anniversary which always seems overshadowed by the actual Christmas (believe it this time, finally, for real). Then, it is Christmas day.

We were happy to have my husband’s aunt (Jane) visit us for about eight days. The last time we saw her my son was six months old. Now he is eight. She arrived with the big snowfall. She left her hometown where it was 77 degrees F. The snow fell and fell and fell. It surely, and most definitely, was a white Christmas here. A little more white than anyone could have thought or anticipated. The first three days of the white fluffy stuff was exciting. My kids spend three to four hours a day outside building, playing, sledding etc. Then everyone was ready for it to be gone. Especially when the snow houses would not hold, or would start to collapse even while building them. But it kept on snowing. We kept on shoveling. We kept on not driving. There was no last minute panic. Because there was no last minute. We were all mesmerized. Now the snowflakes are large, now they stopped, now are these snowflakes or rain, now you wake up in the middle of the night and see it falling against the lamp posts, and there is no trace of all the shoveling from the day before.

We played lots of board games (Settlers of Catan, Seafarers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Apples to Apples, Carcassonne, Mancala, Scabble etc.) and wii games, and watched movies, and had a blast. We went to the Winter Harp concert on the 20th at the St. Andrews Wesley church. As usual they put on a great concert. I did miss the guy who read with them before. And some of the old stories. The new guy is ok, but I felt at times he was trying a bit too hard and that was distracting from the words and bringing the attention to the reader.

Now Christmas is gone. And it is the last few days before the closing of 2008. So if December is my least favorite month of the year (or to say the least, an ambivalent one), these last few days after Christmas are the ones that redeem it. It is quiet. Everyone is full, and satiated with turkey or some equivalent. Expectations are low. Presents are still exciting, and played with, maybe a bit too much (the kids got Spore this year).

And as the snow outside is melting, there is a kind of peace descending like snow. Settling. A time to look back. And be thankful. A time to look forward and be hopeful. A time to ignore the to-do-list a bit, because everyone will understand. And a time when I do not hear any christmas songs. As I said a quiet, peaceful time.

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