"All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea and out comes [. . . ] " - Dylan Thomas from "A Child's Christmas in Wales"
Out comes many wondrous things.
I've noticed that, mostly, holidays don't live up to our expectations. We envision this calm, peaceful and glorious set of days filled with laughter and warmth and good cheer. It tends to fall short of that. This year we had two sick little girls. Buttercup's cold (caught from Blueberry) ended up settling in her chest and we needed to use a nebulizer on her this Christmas. In fact, I took her to the ER two days before Christmas Eve. Then I started getting sick on Christmas Day. The house was a mess. Blueberry whined a lot, ate too much sugar, and bounced off the walls. Buttercup coughed a lot and was pretty grumpy opening presents.
But there were presents, both useful and useless. (Mine, for example: down coat from LL Bean, iPhone!!!, and a device that makes your pancakes and eggs cook into the shape of hearts.)
There was mulled wine and latke's and my brother's amazing seared cod on Christmas Eve.
There were children nestled safely in their (scratch that) our bed.
There was a fire in the stove that lasted for days, it felt like.
There was a lovely Christmas breakfast feast.
Blueberry still was an angel in a Christmas pageant in town on Christmas Eve. In fact, she was the only angel who said her line with gusto: "Glory to God in the highest!" (you could probably hear it across town.)
Blueberry was far more eager to give things away to anyone who came to the door - mailmen, UPS drivers, neighbors bearing treats - than to get stuff.
There was a light snow-globe snow falling on Christmas day, starting as floaty feathery flakes when we woke up (at the extremely decent hour of 7:30) and then getting steadier throughout the day.
It was a genuine storm by dinner.
There was Nonni and Pop Pop's Christmas dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
All my siblings were together, the five of us recounting Christmas pasts and participating in lots of good-natured teasing.
There were Christmas crackers unexpectedly filled with confetti. And there was cleaning it up together.
There was uneventful travel in the slippery snow.
There was my grandmother opening a beautiful snowglobe - something she'd wanted for all her 80 years.
There were two babies falling asleep while nursing by the Christmas tree.
There were too many cookies and too much port wine.
There were paper dolls and Colorforms and puzzles, books and hand-knit hats and mittens, so my daughter's Christmas had a air of timelessness. Everything she got was low-tech, yet she loved it. (And yes, I'm brave enough to post a picture of myself in pj's on Christmas morning.)
Boxing Day has dawned bright and clear with snow-laden trees against an impossibly blue sky and our home is warm and full of Christmas remnants and a couple of presents that Santa "forgot."
Peace and joy be yours this season, this year's end, even if it fails to live up to your expectations. With love from us all "at the rim of the carol-singing sea."