I’m a blue skies, sunshine, and warm weather girl. I greet the winter with a certain mix of dread and resignation. Which may be why I haven’t posted in the past two months! The cold and short, dark days make me want to curl up under a blanket and come out when summer is back. But, the holidays, well the holidays make the winter just a little more bearable. I love the gatherings, the parties, the food, the singing, the twinkling lights. This holiday season has given me a teensy infusion of energy, just enough to squeak out a tiny post.
I kicked off the holiday season on December 1st with a couple of friends and we made a day trip to San Francisco to see Sol3 Mio, a trio of Samoan relatives that sang holiday songs, opera arias, and songs from the South Pacific. Before the show we wandered the neighborhood, delighted to discover they were also kicking off the holiday season with a street festival of sorts where a DJ played Christmas tunes in the park and children and their parents danced with abandoned joy. It’s a fun thing about the big city. Being in public is kind of like being in private. No one is paying any attention to you. The stores were all open late and passing out free drinks to warm the window shoppers and perhaps encourage a little tipsy Christmas gift buying. The Opera House was also getting into the spirit and had sponsored a few food trucks that were passing out free food and free spiked hot chocolate and hot cider. Free? In San Francisco? Now that’s a Christmas miracle if I ever saw one.
Sol3 Mio was a delight. Listening to these big, Samoan fellows sing in pure, high voices and tell their story was such a treasure. They sang traditional songs from the South Pacific, heart tugging opera arias, and rousing Christmas sing alongs. Their father was a plantation worker who moved the family to New Zealand for better opportunities. He used to sing while he worked in the fields, sing to his boys at night. His son told him, “Dad, one day I’m going to take your voice all over the world.” It was clear that this one night performance on the stage at the world-famous San Francisco Opera House was the culmination of their efforts. The largest brother, Pene Pati broke down and choked up on stage in the middle of a song, whispering to his dad, “We did it, dad. Look at us. We’re really here. We made it!” There wasn’t a dry eye in the place and at the end was a well deserved standing ovation.
Holiday sweets. We love them. We hate them. I find holiday baking to be useful in untraditional ways. For example, I needed the broiler in my stove fixed. Normally, it would be like pulling teeth to get my land lord to do this. But leave a message saying, “Hi, my boiler is broken. Can you come fix it? I left a plate of warm cookies on top of the stove.” Voila! It magically gets done within the hour. Plus the guilty admission that he ate the whole plate while standing at the stove gave my baking ego a little confidence boost.
I dislike the cold, short, dark days but even nature seems to offer little gifts in way of apology, little glimpses of hope and light in the gloom, though you sometimes have to look to find them. The way a persimmon tree looses all it’s leaves but retains its globular orange fruits like lanterns hung on a tree. The unexpected yellow leaf glow of an alder tree down in a dark creek bed. A red rose hip on a thorny, dry bush.
I was grateful to get to spend Christmas with my family this year. Working in health care, it’s not at all a given. Not that I’m complaining. Someone has to pay for my “One for you, one for me” method of Christmas shopping. It feels so good to remember to be grateful for the little things. Plus, there are so few traditions anymore with our constantly evolving world, our very mobile society, that it made me feel connected and happy to have a few small traditions still intact from my childhood Christmases past. Christmas Eve was always celebrated by attending an evening church service followed by a dinner of clam chowder. I have no idea how that got started but there you have it and we still do it. The service revolved around the advent wreath. As each candle was lit, a short talk was given on the attribute assigned to it, the four being hope, joy, peace, and love. At dinner that night my brother quizzed my eldest nephew 8-year-old Oliver on the wreath. “Do you remember what the candles stood for?” he said while silently mouthing “J. Jo. Jo. Joy? Jooooy?”
“Uuuuuum,” Oliver said.
“There were four…” my brother prodded.
“Uuuuuuum. Super powers?”
My brother raised an eyebrow.
“Cinco de Mayo? Bread. And Laser eyes!” Oliver finished enthusiastically.
Next Christmas I plan to take the pastor aside and suggest an alternate advent wreath be lit. One that symbolizes super powers, Cinco de Mayo, bread, and laser eyes. A perfectly reasonable alternative. I believe the importance of tacos (Cinco de Mayo) has already been well established in this blog. Being gluten intolerant, bread is something I can only dream about and if I could have one wish for Christmas, a giant loaf of sourdough with no side effects would be it. Super powers and laser eyes? Well. Self explanatory.
I do have some thoughts on the past year and the year ahead but I’m sleepy and this glass of wine has gone to my head so that will have to be the next post. As I sign off I will mention that driving home from work this first day of the new year, a large white owl floated silently out of the trees, over my car and into the apple orchard near by. A wink from the universe, to be sure, sending me a visit from my totem animal tonight…