Saturday, December 1, 2012

First Snow

This is what I posted at Flirty Author Bitches today:

On Monday the kids and I woke up to winter white blanketing the backyard.  Luckily my husband managed to keep his grumbles subdued while the kids and I enjoyed the surprise snowfall.
I love snow, winter and Christmas. I grew up here, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and winter was a very enjoyable part of my childhood. Somehow, the cold and the dark just made the light and warmth of home that much more distinct. There is something so viscerally comforting about coming inside from a frigid winter day, knocking the snow from our boots, taking off all the mitts, scarves and coats in order to put on cozy slippers and make a pot of tea.
Our Christmas tree is already up. I tried to wait until this weekend to do it. But I’m so much like a kid at this time of year, I hauled it up from the basement a week ago Friday, fluffed it and put on the lights so the kids, Greg and I could decorate it after supper. The kids, so excited to see it up and to pull out each decoration, enjoyed remembering them from the previous year. Some they’d made at school, or had been given as gifts. I also thrilled to see the decorations, like the cheesy musical creche set I’d been given from a now deceased relative and don’t have the heart to get rid of; the three hand-made wise men with Christmas balls as heads and lush robes, each made from a different fabric, delicately sewn and created by someone for a Christmas bazaar; and the wind up Nutcracker that plays The Little Drummer Boy, given to me by a dear friend many years ago.
Christmas is a time for memories, of course, and traditions. But sometimes these need to be modified as the years go by. My husband’s grandmother typically had us all over for dinner on Christmas Eve, which began as a tradition when my husband was very young, when his Grandfather was still alive. When he and I first started dating, we would go to Granny H’s condo apartment for a home cooked meal on Christmas Eve. She kept this up well into her eighties, although it became more and more difficult. Finally, Greg and I took over hosting the Christmas Eve dinner.
To be honest, in my family, Christmas Eve was a relaxed evening with just the immediate family around. We’d order pizza and just hang out by the tree munching on chocolates, fruitcake and cookies. Occasionally, my mother would make us all go to church, something which I initially protested, but once there, would become caught up in the beauty of the service, decorations and choral singing.
This year, Granny H. is approaching ninety-one and finds it very difficult to go visiting in the evenings. For the first time since my husband and I have been together, we won’t be having anyone over on Christmas Eve. Our plan is to order pizza (yay!) and those who so desire will attend the 6:00pm service at the United Church. We will probably take Greg’s mom with us, as otherwise she’ll be alone on Christmas Eve.
So old traditions become new ones, memories fade with time, but the love of the family stays strong. I hope that all of you have a wonderful Christmas full of laughter and joy and familial togetherness.

Here is a poem inspired by the first fall of snow in Ottawa this past week:

Suddenly, Snow
Suddenly, snow, blanketing the backyard for the dog to make
Footprints in as she sniffs and sneezes, the cold
Not an issue, eclipsed by the fresh, soft whiteness.
The kids press their noses to the glass, delighting in the world.
Later, the walk to school is long and indirect, with detours
To brush the snow off rocks and fence posts,
make snow angels and scoop mitfulls of the fresh white fluff to eat,
imagining marshmallows or royal icing.
Afterwards, I walk by the creek, listening to the soft footfalls
Of my new snow boots, watching sparkles of snow fall
From the covered branches in the light breeze.
A veritable fairyland of white shining in the sun
Under blue blue sky.
A man and his black dog pausing to notice me.
When I get close and greet her owner, she leaps in joy and dances
Circles around me, her body filled with delightful energy.
It’s here! It’s here! Winter is here!
~ Liz

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