It’s a week before Christmas, only days away, and a great calm fills the house in these wet rainy days of winter. The garden is still green, but the signs of the season are manifest in the barren branches of the wild plum and oaks. The plums present a crisscross of dark branches in a complex scriffitto, which decorates the sky and when hit by the setting sun turn golden pink and herald the solstice. The oaks in barren beauty are filled with round globes of mistletoe that to my eye look like musical scores. I swear that one such near the cottage sings out Ode to Joy.
Very little of the sickening commercialism of the Santa season has infected our peace of mind this year and we have been feted in the most gracious and lovely way by invitations to tea, dinner and conversation by various neighbors. Andie and I are part of a neighborhood hive now. We are greeted on the street, waved at on the passing-by and generally feel we are cared for and watched over.
I am alone now, so different than lonely, and do not feel sadness at this passing holiday that once meant so much to us. We, Trace and I, who managed to create our own wonderful spirit de corps out of a chosen family are now memories of a forward past.
Trees, decorations, cookies and presents gave us tradition over more than twenty years. We re-created the joys of childhood, which to our youthful, innocent selves was magical. Deep in my heart it will always be Christmas, even though as an adult I wish friends happy Hanuka, Happy Solstice or Happy Holidays. All that’s gone now and the peace, which great grief makes a gift, is our quiet happy, in-the-moment cottage life.
Andie and I celebrate, she on homemade dog biscuits sent by her Fairy Dog Mother, Sara and me on fruitcake. I am a long time fan of that much denigrated confection and especially look forward to the Italian village versions of fruit breads. Then there’s delicious Kringle and spiced cider.
Andie got a Christmas hair cut, a pedicure, and a winter dog coat. The jury is out on the dog coat. I think she looks like a junior league ex deb in it, but she seems perfectly OK with it as she chases leaves in the run off stream of today’s rain fall.
Today, on this dark and gray rainy day, Andie and I will sit in front of a warm fireplace, I will drink hot chocolate, while she jumps on the high back of the couch to curl up near my head. I will count our blessings, be filled with gratitude for those precious moments of life we have left and the wonders of love they bring. We wish you joy, comfort, solace and peace.