December

A warm house. A beautiful tree in the corner drinking water like a thirsty dog. Our children home.

My favourite parts of Christmas are bringing the outside in and the far away close. Our son is home from England, our daughter home from Toronto.

Balsam fir, and the fragrance greets me in the hall outside the living room. I have just played Santa, creeping into my daughter’s room to leave a stocking beside the laptop glowing on her bed, and into my son’s room to leave his stocking propped on the floor next to his glowing laptop. How can they sleep with these foreign lights puncturing the darkness? And I step backwards over their shed clothes, my feet on soft unknowns, wondering what sort of future exists for grown children who do not put their clothes away. Bad mother, who did not teach them.

Downstairs, I open the back door into darkness and battering winds. It’s way above zero and during the night rain was beating against our windows.

What I love best about December is the darkness. It has the quality of dark fruitcake, which reminds me of Louis Armstrong’s voice.

This is childhood talking.

I hear footsteps on our creaking floors. My son’s a moment ago. My husband’s now. It is still dark and the barometer has never been lower. A day for all the creature comforts.

That was yesterday. Today my head is a shambles. It took me ten minutes to remember ‘butternut squash.’ I want to stand outside the store that sold me a certain pan for crème caramel and bang it over the offending saleswoman’s head as she gets out of her car. This is not the pan! It never was the pan! Give me my money back!

Instead, I will go for a long slow walk into the damp winds.

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