I used to lie under the Christmas tree on Christmas night during that quiet time when the fairy dust had settled and the wrapping paper had been stuffed into paper grocery bags and taken to the basement. Dinner dishes were washed, dried and put away and the last of the stack of Christmas 45s had dropped and played out. My siblings were either asleep or in their rooms tinkering with new toys. On her way upstairs, Mom asked “Don’t you want to come up now, honey?” and, always beside her, Dad cut her words short and reminded me to “Turn out the lights before you go to bed.” As I lay alone under the tree, I squinted my eyes and the bright colored lights expanded and dazzled as the slits between my eyelids welled with tears. It had been a great day – a magical and happy day – like so many before it. But Christmas was over – for another very, very, very long year.
Last night, another Christmas day ended quietly. And though I thought about it seriously, I didn’t lie down under the tree. My sixty-something holiday seasons now have pretty much rolled themselves into one big swelling of the heart, much more a joyous, melancholy feeling than any specific detail or memory. But I don’t pine for the holiday to linger the way I once did. I’ve learned too well now that the seasons roll back around before you can hardly blink. And the passing of the Christmas season means a winter of reading, tying, and making plans for the opening of fishing season come spring.
I miss Labrador. After thirteen summers there, it has become a large part of my life and I feel about it now the way I feel about the holidays. Sometimes I actually ache to be out there, looking across endless water at the thin strip of boreal forest. My Labrador summers, too, have rolled themselves into one big ball of amazing adventures that I’m driven to share.
I hope you all have enjoyed a memorable Christmas season and that the remainder of your winter is inspirational.