Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Silent Nights

We used to put these amazing lights on my family christmas tree. They were multi colored, the small bulbs, and had about 7 different settings. We needed two strands to surround the whole tree. We put our tree in this fancy room that I can never remember what to call it; family room? living room? After 20 years in that house I still refer to either as "tv room" or "piano room". Anyway - we put our tree in the piano room, with wooden floors, dark green walls, and fancy paint / plaster designs on the white ceiling.
My family of five plus an entourage of pets has always been busy. Baking, shopping, jobs, school, everyone would whirl around; in and out of the house, around the house. It was never too hard to slip away from all of it unnoticed.
I like to slip away.
All the years we used those lights my favorite part of Christmas was the way they reflected on the ceiling. With life swirling around me, the cold settled into the hills and valleys of Botetourt County, I would tweak those lights to my liking and settle into the best spot in the house. Quiet and still on the rug I would lie on my back watching rhythms and colors flash around shadowed fir, pine or spruce.
My own version of a Virginia Aurora Borealis.

Last Christmas was my first Christmas away from Botetourt. Geronimo and I bought a wreath of western pine and red cedar and snuggled up quietly in Missoula, Montana. Sad as it was to not be amongst family - there was a special magic to the eve and day, a quiet slipped away feeling.

This year is my sister's first Christmas away from Botetourt. She has no snow, no hurried holiday shopping - just young Tanzanian orphans celebrating the coming of summer and reciting bible verses of the Christmas story. She skypes us a lot.

We have a really lovely douglas fir in the piano room right now. While our parents were at work my brother and I strung some lights in the boughs. We had bags to choose from - blue icicle, huge colorful bulbs similar to downtown Fincastle, a white light coil, and singing bells. Deciding to keep things in the white light category we opted for the coil and bells. You have to press Santa's eyebrows a few times on that bell controller to stop those things from singing - they're so obnoxious when they sing. So there's this filtered glow, and a bit of blinking from the bells. Mom put all the ornaments on herself after work yesterday.

Years of rug laying and light watching pulled me to the room after everyone else was in bed. I stood at the doorway and took in the scene. But it wasn't there. That hushed mystic escape. The tranquil meditation of a girl lost in dim light, rhythm, and the smell of pine.

And the funny thing about magic- you can't really get IT back. It just sort of - is. And I wonder what's changed so much in my life. If I'm capable of that wonder and quietness again.

Maybe I drink too much coffee for that stillness.

Maybe I don't breathe deep enough.

But sometime this winter, I hope I will, and whatever form that mystic escape takes, I hope the magic finds me again.