Sunday, December 26, 2010

First White Christmas

We took a decoration from our tree and posed it outside. The decoration is an original of a set given to us by my parents. My mom decorated her trees when I was a child with this Christmas ball.

The snow was steady and abundant, loud in the silence of the windless still day.

Back of our house facing west. Same angle as the snow from February this year.

Looking from our bedroom down our driveway.

Walking in my first White Christmas. We ended up with about two inches, wet and packed.

Yesterday was my first white Christmas. My daddy tells me that he and mom went to the back of my grandparent’s farm in 1957 and cut a small pine tree for Christmas. It snowed that day, but it was gone by Christmas here. In 1993 there was allegedly a dusting of snow at Christmas here but Jennifer and I didn’t live here then. We were in the metro Atlanta area and it didn’t snow that far south. According to what I can gather, this is otherwise the first White Christmas here since the 1880's.

So, yesterday was a special day for me, I will never forget it. The posture of the day was spiritual, like my day discovering the Beauty of St. Augustine or our first day of the trip to Boston last year or canoeing in the calm cove at Lake Seed this past summer. The karma flowed fluidly. The miracle of your first white Christmas isn’t a long memory. It is truly in the Now without any effort to find it there.

Snow turns southerners into child-like elves, giddy with excitement. It happens so infrequently in the deeper South, not a common occurrence at all. But, to snow on Christmas Day…OMG!

I was first up and made coffee, checked emails. Jennifer and I enjoyed a cup before my daughter arose. No Santa Claus this year, of course. That was for smaller children at other homes. The three of us opened gifts, each being pleasantly surprised at something. Then it was time for us to get on the phone or on Facebook and interact with family and friends. My daughter wanted to go visit her cousin so she could show off her latest duds. The cousin was at my parents’ house, where we had celebrated the season on Christmas Eve.

I had called earlier. My mom shocked me with a matter-of-fact announcement that it was snowing at their house. Even though they live only about four miles to our north there was no snow at our house at the time. I checked the internet weather. Snow was definitely coming and the seam of the front was literally right over us. My daughter and I made a quick jaunt over to my parents. Halfway there we ran into a sudden, fairly heavy snow. It wasn’t laying on the ground yet other than accumulating as slush. Still, the sight of it falling out of the sky put an uncontrollable smile on faces.

My daughter got to see her cousin (just six months younger) and they compared things they had opened first thing Christmas morning. I got to give my sister and parents a Christmas morning kiss and hug. They were having breakfast. We only stayed for a few minutes. My daughter drove over there but I drove back. By the time we returned Jennifer’s parents had just arrived from town. Now it was snowing big, steady flakes and starting to lay here and there. There was no wind.

It has been years since we’d seen the shrubs and bushes draped over from the weight of the wet whiteness. We had champagne, opened gifts and enjoyed a simple late breakfast. I showed Jennifer’s parents a nicely bound photo book of our 2008 Alaska trip (which started this blog) that was one of Jennifer’s gifts to me. It contained many photos as well as some thoughtful written impressions by her. I gave her a well-crafted set of martini glasses which delighted her.

The late breakfast featured (from my perspective anyway) a pound of Hormel Black Label center cut bacon (the only time I cook bacon all year is Christmas morning). There wasn’t a piece of it left, my daughter consuming much of it. Then we went outside to take pictures of the snowfall with Jennifer’s mom and dad. They didn’t stay that long since they wanted to get back to town before the roads started to get more than slushy. Then I took my daughter to her boyfriend’s house to have dinner over there. I went in and wish the boyfriend’s mom a Merry Christmas. It was my first time to meet her.

Jennifer and I enjoyed another bottle of champagne, discussed cooking and art and she looked out our remodeled den’s tall window-view. We toasted our first white Christmas together. She had known some in her youth in New York. Jennifer pondered, watching the snow fall abundantly. It was windless with big flakes falling without any sign of letting up. So quiet was our farm and so heavy was the snow that you could hear it falling and packing itself onto our land. Jennifer said: “People cannot look upon this and not be changed.”

Exactly. She and I shared a complete appreciation for the Now. In a time when the spirit of the season is ever more difficult to find, we enjoyed a completely spiritual day and it just happened to be Christmas Day, the mixture of pagan traditions with the Christ-birth story. Those traditions and that story formed a part of the narrative of the day for me.

I was raised in a small country church which I attended regularly until somewhere in my college years. It became more infrequent until I was 26, when I quite going to church regularly at all. The important things, in this case, are not the clearer but fading memories of college and high school. The genuine importance lies in the now mostly forgotten first 12 years of your Being in a church community. When I was a Child and felt life as a Child.

I cannot deny my church past affects me as many other experiences of childhood do, but this effect is different for I was a spiritual child as I am a spiritual adult today, as I was when I went on my quest to India, for example. I know the New Testament well though I need to restudy it someday.

The pagan traditions, for me, are religions of Nature. They chose to celebrate Being on the land and in the forest. I certainly relate to that. It was the primary reason I wanted to acquire some acreage of my own and to be surrounded by as much farmland as possible. For there, too, I am a Child. I fully respect the fundamental, cyclical love of nature in paganism.

Being within the inspiration of a first experience is where we can most easily touch childhood. Stepping into that lifeworld we are young again in many ways. The day is lite and easy and so full of satisfaction and we are energized by what’s happening in the moment. Walking and playing in the snow.

One of my nieces and my sister were playing some word game that I had never heard of before. My little niece catches on fast with her bright mind and very forceful opinion. The word for that part of the game was “depression.” My niece was wholly puzzled. “What is that?” My sister explained in general terms it was when someone just didn’t feel well a lot of the time and just wanted to mope around. My niece almost laughed. “No body gets that,” she giggled. She’s been bouncing around like crazy, happy for days. Childhood again. If that’s not the spirit of Christmas I can’t imagine what is.

This morning Jennifer and I listened to George Winston’s December very softly on the stereo before my daughter awoke from her long, late sleep. The first tune of that CD is representative of the gears in my frame of mind today, the day after the child in me played in its first white Christmas. The tune is called “Thanksgiving”, which is such a perfect word for the wonders of mystery and possibility in the Now.

It is windy today and much colder, only getting up into the twenties. 20 mile per hour gusts. We read and watch movies and play video games and wargames and listen to music and wash clothes and do other small cleaning chores. We make meals and take care of dog maintenance and go for short walks on the crunchy packed blanket of white and watch the internet for a chance of more snow - only it seems too cold for snow.

We reflect on what was for me and my daughter (my child) a true first white Christmas. So, for my family, a double first white Christmas. But, maybe more than that. It has been so long since Jennifer has had a snowy Christmas she only dimly remembered those of her New York days. So, in essence, she was experiencing it all anew, as my daughter and I.

Of other first Christmas' I can only imagine how my little niece must have been in the snow yesterday. She had all the energy to play in it but none of the experience to know it for a rarity. Yet because of her lack of experience her expression of child Being is an inspiration if you like. Beginner's Mind.

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