It was two days ago that I realized how I am not scared of this year’s Christmas anymore. Or apprehensive for that matter. The first Christmas in a different place can do that to someone like me, you see.
Unfamiliar places become familiar as you immerse yourself in them, and so has Kamloops since we landed here on September 1. It’s been a good and rich few months but Christmas still had a big cloud over it: It did not feel like Christmas and faking the joy just doesn’t do it for me. I painted like I usually do, I baked like I do (but had to convince myself to do it and thinking it will be worth the effort since the ginger-smelling house will summon some good Christmas thoughts) and got a nice (albeit spiky) tree. All like it should be. Yet not quite…
Two days ago I was heading downtown with snow falling so thick and plump you’d think the entire sky was draped very close to the ground. It makes you happy, you know, snow falling like that. There’s no hiding from snow flakes, they pinch your face, they hide in your hair, they tickle your nose and there is no better game than sticking your tongue out just to catch a few. Try it. Before you know it, the pre-Christmas pout is lost somewhere in the thick snow under round bushes that winter cold has cocooned into dormant blobs.
The downtown was white and slushy as one would expect on a day when snow kept falling and people kept throwing salt on the sidewalks to prevent bumps and bruises and broken limbs.
For half an hour or so I was tucked in the warmth’s of a nice lunch place owned by a dear friend and her mother eating soup and chatting about dreams and people we know, and snowy places where you have no other option but to count your blessings for being snowed in. We hugged and I was on my way to meet another friend who has seen my soul bruised from up close and has seen it dance with sparkling joy too, and embraced it all with kindness. Being the relationship minimalist that I am, there is no army of friends around me, but the ones I have come close to my soul wrapped in blankets of deep trust and I know, and they know it too, that they are there for the right reasons. It’s a two-way road, always.
We had coffee, laughs, shared memories and talked about our boys, about being mothers, about being us, about the places we would go to and about whether we ask too much of life. It started snowing again and we walked through snowy-slushy downtown and it looked festive all of a sudden.
I walked home and thought of Christmas again. Whiteness does wash worries and fears away, not sure how. I realized I was in a place where I have friends who laugh and cry with me, I have my boys who are trusting me to bring them a jolly Christmas, I have people who bring the world to me and show me the wonder of it when I am too teary or tired or frustrated that I fail to acknowledge it.
I am in a place that is as good to be in at Christmas as any other place, but being on the side of those who do not always see Christmas as an unconditionally happy time is a gift in itself. It softens one’s heart to match the softness of the very snow I’m stepping on. It’s good to see both sides of it so I can be grateful. Being grateful makes Christmas real. Like with every other part of my life, I’d take real over anything else any day.