The weather is snowy. We have a tree with crystal bells and gifts we have been given this year and a lighted wreath in the stairwell.
I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
There is a tiny little spark inside of me at Christmas that is not there any other time of the year. Christmas is special. Snow goes with Christmas. There is something mythic about snow and about Christmas. It may be the stories that we in the U.S. hold as important icons in our popular culture.
There are multiple heroic Christmas characters who struggle and overcome adversity that is symbolized by cold, snowy weather. Charles Dickens’ Tiny Tim from the 1843 novella A Christmas Carol is one of the powerful icons. In the story Scrooge is a miserly man and miserable employer. Through a series of encounters with a ghost, Scrooge realizes that he should change. He sends his employee Bob Cratchit and his crippled son Tiny Tim a turkey and other food for Christmas morning. Another very powerful icon, even for those who have not seen it, is the 1946 Jimmy Stewart movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. In the movie George Bailey, played by Stewart, finds great love in his family. He says to Mary Hatch played by Donna Reed, “You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it for you.” Through a series of ever worsting events, George finds himself in deep despair on Christmas Eve. As he struggles through the snow in anguish, an angle says to him, “You have been given great gifts and the greatest gift of all is right at home.” He finds his way home through the snow on Christmas Eve and is welcomed at the door with great joy.
It was gray and snowy all day. This morning it was snowing hard. Looking out the window was fruitless, all you could see was a white moving fog. About 2 pm the weather broke to reveal the end of the driveway with a swirling promise of mountains beyond.
We had planned to go to the mountains walking today. When the winter comes and the National Forest roads outside of our town become impassable, they are great, wide boulevards where dogs and their people, young and old alike walk, snowshoe or ski. We had looked forward to walking on those great, wide boulevards. After the morning’s snow, I was reticent to go because I was worried about falling in the snow. Normally we would have worn show shoes but they were consumed by the hungry fire.
All of us, Sophie included have gained weight since the fire. We talked with our doctors and they all reassured us that it was not unexpected following the fire. They concurred we would feel better with more exercise. Before the fire I had been sick for months and months and before that my spouse had a serious leg injury. We had gotten out of the habit of our exercising even thought we loved to walk in the mountains. As we stood at the window trying to decide whether or not to go, I could hear my doctor’s words ringing in my head, “You used to do a lot more. You used to go out hiking and you enjoyed that. You should get back to doing that.” We decided we would try. We would go as far as we felt we could and be glad for that.
Today the snow was just right for walking. It was about 3-4 inches deep with a soft fluffy texture. We had a wonderful walk in the snow. We meet other families on our boulevard. We enjoyed visiting and Sophie had fun playing with other dogs. It was a perfect afternoon. There was something special about fresh snow and Christmas made it all the more special.
As we drove down the mountain in the advancing darkness at the end of the day, I was deeply touched by the beauty of the snow, of the forest and love for my family. I was deeply aware of my thankfulness for our safety from the fire and for all of our blessings. In my melancholy mind the 1943 Bing Crosby song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas played. It has such a lovely soulful tune it matched my mood exactly. It sings of great love and of commitment and of intention. The song was of World War II soldiers in the field who dreamed of being home.
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
I have been thinking of going to our old house site and decorating for Christmas. I have thought to put a Christmas wreath or a bow. I want to stay connected to our land and the Christmases we spent there. We usually traveled to family on Christmas day but always before we left we put out symbols of the season. Each Christmas I placed on our coffee table a beautiful, musical snow globe that several family member gave us as a gift. Another gift, a little lighted Christmas bakery sculpted house, found its way to the window. For 35 years we had a beautiful Saint Nicholas carrying firewood and food for others that reminded us that Christmas is about love and giving. I set out a beautiful bisque nativity that was also a gift. As we had when I was a child, I put the wise men far away to symbolize their distance from the child Jesus. I always tucked Baby Jesus away to be brought out and put in the manger on Christmas eve. Some years I would make an Advent Wreath. The years when family came to our house we had Christmas lights outside. Never a Christmas passed without acknowledgement.
For days I thought about our poor burned land that is heaped up in rough piles where the track hoe moved to tear out the foundation. There is nothing tidy or joyful. It broke my heart to think of it alone, the only house on the block that was not started. It is the only house that is not focused toward the future with new foundations and walls and a place to stand on a floor, even if in the cold, and celebrate on Christmas.
It was then, and with a leap of my heart, that I realized I could put an acknowledgement of Christmas there even if our house was not there. I have been trying to decide what would be just right and have struggled with where to put something. There are no trees and no fence posts and no deck rails and no door. As we driving down the mountain it occurred to me that I could use a hose stand to hang a wreath on. As we neared the turn to our house, I was feeling good about having a plan and resolved to put it in place tomorrow. As we passed by and did not take the turn home I realized that “I’ll be home for Christmas, If only in my dreams.”