Every nerve ending was fired with excitement as we left Dunkin Donuts, thermoses full of hot coffee, and crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the dark. There is something magical about watching the sunrise on the Eastern Shore, steaming cup of coffee in hand, on a cold winter morning.
This was our first Christmas spent in Boston with our two sons and daughter-in-law and her parents. The exquisite dinner on Christmas Day, beef bourguignon, was preceded by appetizers fit for a king and followed by dessert, coffee, and conversations late into the night. No one wanted the evening to end.
I have been anticipating this time since Labor Day. Each year seems to begin slowly in January, long, cold, quiet days creeping into the shorter, cold, grey days of February. By late March, at least in Virginia, you begin to get a promise of spring as the year starts picking up speed until, before you know it, Labor Day comes and you wonder where the year went, but you have the flutter of expectation and excitement the approaching holidays herald.
Our Thanksgiving is somewhat like a Christmas for us as we spend time with our daughter and her family in Michigan. Then we return to Virginia and prepare for Christmas, the planning, the shopping, the baking, the packing, until we load up the car and head north.
As this year draws to a close, it is an appropriate time to reflect on what new insights it has brought me. I am like a tree. If you were to cut me down, you would see the layering of life, the solid rings signaling growth, even in stressful years. Or am I more like an onion, thin-skinned, delicate layers transparent and peeled away as the years go by? This I know: the longer I live, the more I am able to whittle away the chaff to reveal the richness of life. Amid the wrapping paper and ribbons and the multitude of presents exchanged, the pleasures of the season come down to two things—spending time with those you love, and eating incredible food. Or, to simplify it even further, eating great food with those you love. It doesn’t get any better than that!
All through this year, my husband and I have carved out opportunities to spend time with those we love in Virginia, in Michigan, in Connecticut, and Boston. I am like a glutton; the more I get, the more I want, and it will never be enough. The weather has given me a gift this year. A blizzard has delayed our parting, but it won’t be long before the inevitable long journey home begins, heading back to the beginning of the cycle again. The memories of this season, beginning with Thanksgiving, will keep me through the long winter days until the year begins to pick up speed, hurtling us once more into this most joyous time when we are united with those we love, sharing fabulous food and intimate conversations.
Ultimately, I think my life is like a song, and each year a new verse is written.