Friday, December 23, 2011

The Eve of Christmas Eve

The first Christmas after losing a beloved member of the family unfolds in sadness and joy, loss and renewal, wistfulness and nostalgia. My heart feels heavy even as it is uplifted by the songs, scents, and traditions; I feel older and somewhat removed even as, thanks to half a century of memories and delight linked to this holiday (so beloved by my parents), I am as eager to see what's under the tree, what's in the stockings, and what's on the roof as any child.

I am grateful for traditions, as well as for having a kid around the house, because they work together to pull one along as if on a sleigh. It was quite clear a month ago that there would be a tree, and baking, and Christmas ships and jigsaw puzzles and fudge and parcels smuggled into the house, when my child asked somewhat apprehensively, tapping gently around the edges of my feelings, whether we would go downtown as we always have at Christmastime to see the lights, visit the Market, and find a new place to have lunch.

No wonder they never let Rudolph play any reindeer games. He was a hog.
There were lots of beautiful and colorful things at the Market, just as there was at the Phinney Winter Fair.

It was fun to track down and haul home our annual bounty of treats to share and enjoy between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day.

Aero Bars! Chunky KitKats! Cadbury Flakes! Chocolate-covered digestive biscuits! Some of our favorite things exported from England (in addition to Tony himself, of course, who was the one who picked out the pub ale). Look closely and you can see that the 14-year-old has already broken into the Flakes and the digestives. (What you can't see is the Aero bar she already ate.) I'm responsible for the German 5-grain bread, the Jacob's cream crackers, and the teawurst (a favorite of both my Dad and I, and very hard to find in Seattle). Oh, some lemon-orange cookies and some locally produced jam, too.

The local woman who collects glowing Santas had the whole crew out this evening.

Lights, singing, and a bonfire cap the day at Golden Gardens park.

Luna, however, was perfectly content to stay home and shred her gift, the cardboard tube from the inside of a roll of wrapping paper.