Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Home for Christmas

It was a wonderful Christmas. But then I can’t recall a bad one. Christmas always has a message for those of us who listen for it.

This year I had the quintessential holiday experience complete with small children tearing through paper in the company of lots of extended family and longtime friends. It was the kind of warm and cozy holiday experience that you see in the movies.

I love Christmas gifts, and I enjoy thinking about them and shopping through the year, but this year, for the first time in many years, I actually got a gift that far exceeded any expectations—an ipod! I would never have even thought to request such a thing, but it was exactly what I wanted. Exactly. I think the last time I got such a perfect gift was when a long departed boyfriend gave me a router so that I could dream of replicating moldings in the house I was renovating. As I recall, I burst into tears then, as I almost did again, but mostly I was just delighted. Like a kid at Christmas.

There were shadow moments, of course, including remembered and new trials of traveling by air. I have not traveled much since security measures ramped up, nor since airlines have been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and I have mislaid some of my skills for dealing with expected travel challenges, not to mention a few new ones.

And it always makes me cock my head in confusion when the people who claim to know me well don’t understand what I do with my time if I don’t go to movies or out to eat. Readers of Vermont Diary know what I do. It is a Christmas miracle that we manage to rub along as well as we do, given that we have so little contact throughout the year and—really—so little in common. The warmth of the holiday leaves everyone saying, “Let’s keep in touch more!” Let’s hold on a little longer to the thought that it might happen.

But, gosh! It is great to be home. The South is not home to me, not any more. It is a lovely place to visit, and I particularly enjoyed morning walks in the sunshine. But I feel as strangled by expectation and unwritten rules as ever, and I am glad to be back home where life is a little slower and more deliberate, where people ask for what they need and respect your right to give or withhold according to your resources.

As someone pointed out to me when I took my puppy to work a few weeks ago, I am in danger of going native and of becoming a Vermont booster, blind to her faults. I was obscurely proud this morning to hear that there were only seven murders in the state this year, and I was absolutely delighted to arrive at the parking lot yesterday to find my car ready and running, waiting just for me. In this tourism state where I have frequently complained that service providers don’t understand the demands of travelers from New York and Boston, I was overwhelmed at this welcoming touch.

The puppy has grown. She looks about 30% bigger in just a week. So far her sitters have said she was good, but we have not yet had the full debriefing. The old boys are happy to see me, but did not panic at my absence as they sometimes have. We are all happy to be back in our morning routine of coffee and kibble, looking out at snowcapped mountains, sitting under the artificial light, and blogging.

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