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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Foggy morningI hate goodbyes. I dropped my son off at the airport this morning, knowing I would probably not see him again until next Christmas. We hugged, and I watched him pull his suitcase toward the revolving doors. Around me, other people hugged their goodbyes, grasping that last touch, one final memory to hold them until next time.

Why do kids have to grow up and move away? I remember how excited I was when I went away to college. Did my mother cry as they drove away from my freshman dorm? Did a hole open in her heart that only my return could mend? I never thought about it much at the time; I was too busy living my own life.Son and husband

At my age, goodbyes become more common. A little over a year ago I whispered goodbye to my father as he lay silent in a hospital bed, his spirit perhaps already flown. That farewell was even more wrenching, tinged with the knowledge that I wouldn’t see him again until eternity.

sun shining through the fogAnd yet I go on. The sun shines through the fog and brightens the morning. I smile through my tears. Tomorrow my husband and I will be the ones leaving, off to see our other son and his wife. The hugs will be ones of gladness, as we reconnect after many months. The time will be all the more precious due to its brevity.

At the end of every hello is a goodbye. It’s just how life works. But the pain carves passageways for joy, and every farewell increases my longing for that day when goodbyes will be no more.

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The plane rises into the sky, lifted by forces I can explain but will never comprehend. Slicing through the clouds it disappears. Like magic. Like today turning into tomorrow, and present experiences becoming memories. For a moment, my heart flies with the plane as child of my flesh, child of my soul, you leave again.

Was it really a week ago you arrived? Why does now become yesterday so quickly? Christmas trees with glittering lights. Scones and fudge and decorated cookies. Cold sunshine and Oregon rain. Laughter amidst the warmth of family. Learning a new game where you are the master and we, your parents, mere apprentices. Chicken katsu with curry, artistically presented. You have grown into a strong and confident man, and our hearts glow with pride.

I drive slowly home, to be greeted by empty Christmas stockings and a quiet house. To embrace a husband whose heart also aches. Sweet memories have been added to my storehouse, and I will rejoice in those. Rejoice in love and family and faith—and all the blessings you have given me, often without even knowing. One day soon, those tomorrows will bring us together again. And that will be a wonderful day.

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Yesterday was solstice–winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, summer solstice in the Southern. I admit, I prefer winter solstice to summer, because it means the daylight hours will be increasing. I don’t like getting off work when it is dark. I can’t get outside to work in the yard or take a walk with the dog. And I’m getting to the age where I don’t care to drive at night if I can avoid it. So I feel shut in at times, a bit out of touch with the world of nature. But the solstice brings the promise of more sunlight, even though many months of rain–with perhaps some snow and sleet thrown in for the fun of it–still loom before warm weather will arrive.

Summer solstice, on the other hand, not only means that the daylight hours begin to wane, but also that the hottest months are still ahead. And heat limits my time outdoors almost as much as darkness. If it were up to me, I would lengthen spring and fall and shorten the cold and the heat. Of course, it’s not up to me, so I try to appreciate all the seasons. And now I sit in my quiet home, enjoying the lights on the Christmas tree, glad for the warmth of the heater and the woodstove, thinking about making Christmas cookies. I have gifts to finish making–cinnamon rolls and cream cheese braids and the calendar that my dear aunt expects each Christmas. I have some work to finish. And in just a couple days it will be Christmas, which comes with a promise that no other day can match.

So how about you? What do you think of solstice?

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Following Juncos

Christmas tree, 2008

Off to find a Christmas tree! But I didn’t expect help from a flock of juncos.

 The rain let up briefly, so we headed to our usual place—a U-cut Christmas tree farm run by an elderly gentleman who charges $10 for a beautiful grand fir. We drove down country lanes, up the steep driveway, and into the grassy gravel parking area beneath tall Douglas firs.

 Up and down the hill we wandered, searching for a tree. Our boys always got impatient with me, the family perfectionist, as I could never be satisfied with the first nice tree we saw. I always had to look further—for one that was a bit greener, fuller, or less manicured. Now it was just husband and me, and the rain still held off, so we could take our time.

 We had almost settled on a tree, when my husband checked out the trunk. Too thick, he said. He was the one who had to fit the tree into our little tree stand, so I didn’t argue. We walked back up the hill into another bunch of trees. Ahead of us little gray birds flitted from tree to tree. I stopped to look. White outer tail feathers flashed. Juncos. I smiled and followed the birds, checking out trees as I walked. From tree to tree they went, alighting briefly on or under the branches, then darting on, probably to evade me. I followed to the edge of the trees, where they flew into the bushes and up into a towering Douglas fir. I stopped and looked at the grand fir in front of me. Dark green, healthy-looking needles, just the right size, and a thin trunk. I had found our tree. Thank you, juncos!

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