We had an unexpected power failure a couple days before Christmas. As we were eating our pizza (cheese-less for Gen & I, who are on a dairy fast), the light flickered. Once, twice, and out. The little kids panicked, initially, but were quickly comforted when we brought out the candles. The comfort was due, in part, to the flickering light, and also to the novelty of having open flame within their reach.
It was quiet. No music, no furnace fan, no clicking of electronics and no refrigerator hum. It made for a strange ambiance. It was solemn, but not at all sad. It felt loaded with importance, but with no expectation.
I told the kids of the great ice storm of '98, when we were without power for 6 days. My friend, from a more rural address, was sans electricity for 3 weeks. What fond memories!
We sang Christmas carols together. We told relay stories, where one person starts a story and after a few sentences another person jumps in to continue the tale.
We cuddled under blankets on the couch, while Maddie made wax sculptures from candle drippings.
It was wonderful. If I could have packaged it, I'd have placed it under the tree and labeled it "Christmas".
My love/hate relationship with Christmas continues. My heart is insistent on expecting a Christmas tht matches the season. For me, Christmas should be like a walk in the woods after a snowfall. Still, muffled, dim, cocooned in a deep blanket of white...the feeling that I've been here before, I know this, it knows me, but as I look into the branches of the trees - by all appearances, dead - the sunlight filters though the ice and snow and there are no words for the beauty that is new every moment.
But this. This was Christmas.