I'm snuggled in my sister's bed under approximately four blankets (one of which lies across my feet at the end of the bed). Amy's not here anymore and neither is her dog Sophie. Since I have the only twin bed in the house, when the family begins to drift away, I usually move to one of their beds. Amy's is my favorite because it's a nice tall bed and the feng shui feels good and I think her bedroom is warmer than both mine and Emily's.
It's been a cold Christmas. It was chilly when I arrived, but then on Christmas Eve it began snowing... and snowing... and snowing... and after a foot of snow on the ground and drifts upon drifts pressed up against cars and houses and windows and porches, and piles of plowed snow lining parking lots and strategically placed in the middle of double lane roads, it got really cold. And our house is drafty anyway. It's old... for the Midwest that is. Built in the early 1900s it's huge with mostly french windows all around it (two full walls of my bedroom are just windows). It's beautiful, don't get me wrong. But a little chilly.
"Do you want me to put your beer in the fridge so it won't get cold?" my father hollered up to me one afternoon. I'd forgotten I'd opened it and had become swept up in loading dad's CDs onto his computer since the Pittman women bought him an iPod this year for Christmas.
"This will change your world, dad."
Of course, it didn't work. Leave it to us to buy the one broken iPod in the whole Apple store. Well, sort of broken. It works okay, but it's earphone jack doesn't work so you can't hear anything. Not much good that does. My dad was really disappointed. So tomorrow after they drop me off at the airport my parents are driving into KC, the closest city with an Apple Store.
But truth be told, even if we weren't prone to buying things that are broken (iPod) or stolen (a car) or illegal (a house), this was definitely the Christmas of broken stuff. My phone broke (when my dad stepped on it). The power-steering on my dad's car broke and just today something with the muffler got messed up when we ran over a curb hidden in snow. Mom and I broke my grandma's phone this evening while trying to untangle the cord and clean off the mouthpiece. It screeched and hollered and made noises I didn't think a phone was capable of. The automatic windows on Emily's car broke when she forgot to roll them up while she went through a car wash. You should have seen her afterwards when she pulled up to an ATM and was trying to get her window to go down so she could slide her card into the machine and retrieve some money. but all it kept doing was going up, up, down and up again. Look mom, no hands! I've never laughed so hard.
My heart broke a little too when I had to leave all of my pets in Austin so I could fly to Missouri, a first for me at Christmas. I've always driven, every year, with the cats, then with the cats and the dog, then with the cats and the dog and the boyfriend and then with just the dog, but this time, I flew. Two years ago my car broke - blew up rather - on the highway while driving home and at the rate we're going this Christmas season, I'm guess I'm kind of glad I flew. Somebody knock on wood, please...
With all the snow we've had here and with the snow all across the Midwest (Ok City was declared worst city for weather on Christmas day) I'm pretty glad I don't have to drive back in it. That makes for a stress-free trip (at least for my family and friends who worry about me). The snow relieved me of even more stress than a car drive home. It cancelled church... twice! I know church isn't supposed to be stressful, but I was scheduled to sing on Christmas Eve and my voice wasn't fully recovered from the strep yet and while I know I shouldn't try and be perfect and that I should just "praise God with what I've got," I still was a little nervous about belting those high notes. And then when the Christmas Eve Service was cancelled and I realized I was going to have to now sing the song at the Sunday worship service that made me even more stressed. I had planned on skipping Sunday worship... a little break if you know what I mean, not that any of you get stressed by going to church, but well... it turned out I didn't have to worry about that either. No one could even get into the church, let alone the parking lot, so Sunday's church service was cancelled too. Sorry baby Jesus. I guess we'll just have to have church in our hearts.
Grandma and grandpa had to have church and Christmas at home. Usually after the three Pittman girls have finished opening our stockings, we call gma and gpa and invite them over. By the time they arrive, we're mostly through the presents and they get to catch the last few big ones (this year it would have been dad's broken iPod and my NEW! luggage!). But they were stuck, and they were too nervous to even have dad come and get them. This was probably a pretty good choice on their part since the next day when mom and dad went over because grandma/pa's furnace broke (i forgot to list that one earlier!), my parents had a terrible time getting off their street and even in pulling back onto our street dad's car slid into a snowdrift and he nearly had heart attack number three.
Truthfully, I've loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not one night when we miscalculated our turn into the driveway (turning on snow and ice can be tricky) and had to push the car out of the snow knowing that we had almost made it home and the back door (and warmth) was just a few steps away. But other than that, it's been great. Winter Wonderland literally.
Snow makes everything brighter. Literally. At night, it's not nearly as dark because the white snow reflects the light so well that there is a constant glow in the city. I wonder if that's how people keep their sanity in Alaska. Darkness is hard for me which makes Daylight Savings Time my least favorite six months of the year. But with snow, the world is brighter, lighter and feels less scary, less sad, and less oppressive. And snow forces you to slow down. You weigh the benefits of driving somewhere. Is it really worth the trip? And you have to drive and walk slowly on snow. Each step is deliberate and necessitates your concentration on the moment. I like that. I like being able to see and slowing down... and of course snuggling.
Except, not for me since I'm on day 72 of no men. Which really made me miss my pets this Christmas. You need more than just your own body to fight the cold in winter. Staying warm is a team effort. Fortunately for me, on her last night in St. Joe, Sophie spent most of it draped across my legs in my bed. We'd made a bargain earlier that day. "Sophie," I told her, "if I give you this apple to eat, you have to come sleep in my bed tonight." Unbeknownst to me, this white lab understands the human language and sure enough, when I tried to roll over in the middle of the night, I awoke to find her keeping me warm.
And tomorrow I fly home. It'll be in the 40s when I arrive and as high as 60 the next day. I get to leave, to escape. But I'll also be leaving behind a little part of me that loves the drama of it all: the snowflakes, the sparkle, the snowdrifts taller than you, the ice storms, the electrical blackouts, the fires in the fireplace burning real wood, the two pairs of socks, the piles of blankets, and the light... being able to see in the dark. Always cling to the light.
My favorite thing to look at when it snows is the Christmas lights that decorate bushes in front yards, bushes that are perfect resting places for fallen snow. Not being trampled or dirtied by feet and goulashes, the bushes stay perfectly covered by inches or sometimes feet of snow. The lights have been dampened by the snow, diminished even maybe, but you can still see them glowing underneath, whether white or red or multi-colored, illuminating the whole pile of snow on top of it. I love that. it makes the bush more beautiful than before.
Always cling to the light, whether you're covered in snow or not.
And always let the light shine through.