The sun is slowly, coolly rising over the hill across the river, frigid bands of peach and lavender spreading across the sky. Mysterious, frozen mounds that earlier suggested frightened deer or watchful, thoughtful boar, are revealing themselves to be tree stumps and boulders covered in snow. The river continues to rush beneath crackled, inexorable ice. Fog drifts across the hillside, off to the left. Maybe it isn’t fog, but exhaust from an early riser’s car. Behind the house, the woods are still in shadow. It’s so cold, it’s so cold. I’m not a country person, I don’t understand anymore all the effort and energy that goes into survival in this climate.
The children are asleep in bed. They will protest, later, that they didn’t sleep a wink, that it is not possible that they slept Christmas eve away. There’s too much to look forward to. Will this be the last year they count down to Christmas? The last year they surprise me with their innocence, when they seem so urban and sophisticated, yet dive into snowdrifts in their snow pants and accept the semi-arbitrary rules I lay down for them on the fly?
Some of the sisters have come together to knit up some family ties, new patterns for the ribbon that swirls across our lives. The Parents are gone, the House is gone too. Our sister Alexandra, the one who looks a lot like me, lives in B.C., and now and we hardly ever see her. If she were here, this confluence of similar genes would send up a pillar of smoke and fire, but without her we’re just walking on tinders, pleased to see each other, but afraid to get burned. Our shared history, our gripes and guilt and humour and affection all come rushing back, it just takes proximity.
All this family time makes me reflective. It’s Christmas, and I want to give. More. More to my kids, to my friends and to myself. More to the world. Share what I’ve been given, be aware of what I’ve been given. Joy to all. Happy December 25, from Wakefield, Quebec.