This year winter knocked quietly on our door, giving us time to gather ourselves, to finish staining those wooden braces that will support our overhangs, to stop thinking about all things house-related because now is the time for just being together. Slowly winter crept into our lives, easing the weight of autumn rains, giving us permission to “let the garden be” for a while, because the soil is too wet anyway. Sharpening tools? Sanding wooden handles and oiling with linseed? Bah–this holiday comes but once a year.
But we weren’t expecting winter to bring company. And bring it she did: the snow, when it arrived, came barging in, knocking down the chicken netting, decommissioning our electric fence, and stalling the roofers. Yet somehow the chickens survived and the roofers rescheduled. Eventually the snow settled down and fell from the sky like blessings. So seldom do we get a white Christmas here on the coast: the children were overjoyed.
Winter also brought darkness, and lots of it, which–at times–weighed heavily on our small space. We found ourselves lighting candles–just because.
But winter’s dark nights helped mama put the children to bed early. There were gifts to finish after all, those started in October at a dear friend’s house, and left to sleep in the closet these long months since. This year’s patterns came from Hilary Lang (Kit, Chloe, and Louise dolls) and Meg McElwee’s book Growing Up Sew Liberated (art satchels). I like Lang’s patterns because they are suitable for beginning doll-makers (and seasonal crafters) like me.
When the gifts were nearly done, winter found us scouring our back woods for a tree, something with enough branches to look good from two vantage points. (There is a corner to hide the rest). This year’s choice was a balsam fir from near the railroad tracks, whose fragrance filled the house with the smell of citrus and just a little spice.
But it was under another’s tree where the children found their presents on Christmas morning–an auntie and uncle’s on an island not far from our own. Too excited to heed my requests to go back to bed, little sister rose at 5:00 a.m with an exuberant, “I don’t care [if no one's awake]! It’s Christmas!” When everyone gathered for an early morning tea to witness her joy, we all agreed seeing dawn was a gift. Afternoon naps later convinced us we were right.
In this year’s gifts, we aimed for few and simple. Perhaps the most unexpected was the “old-fashioned typewriter” big sister asked for and received, thanks to a friendly Santa Claus with connections. (You know who you are.) Stories are already starting to rule the page as she and others click the keys, waiting for the “ding.”
Back at home, winter took a holiday long enough for us to welcome more family members to our wee campfire in the yard. When the sun comes out, roasting lunch is a tradition hereabouts. Bannock is a favourite, and can be made with or without gluten. (A few variations are listed here, courtesy of the British Columbia government.)
Soaking up the sunshine, we reviewed some of the things accomplished in 2012 and all that’s left to do. Then we put away our expectations for the time being, because this holiday isn’t over yet. And although the seed catalogues have started arriving in the mail, we will restrain ourselves for a few more days.
All good things to you for the New Year. Thank you very much for joining us here. We hope you will be back in 2013 to share some of your favourite holiday memories.