November 27, 2007

Lake in November

Lake in November

I spent most of last weekend sitting by the fire, listening to music, eating all kinds of food, and just hanging out with my family. I did not grade a single paper. But my husband and I did sneak out one afternoon for a walk at Pretty Colour Lake. Breathing in all that fresh cold air felt wonderful after a whole morning nestled in the comfy couch.

The ground was frozen, to our relief. The muddy paths had become nicely solid trails. Temperature rose into the 40s this weekend, but snow still lay in the shadows beneath the cedar trees. On sunny summer days, the lake is a brilliant green-blue colour, but on a grey November day, the water sometimes turns a deep blue. That's the wonderful thing about living in a climate with four seasons: no matter how many times you walk through the same landscape, the scenery is different.

Spouse and I walked the familiar paths, talking about our kids, our extended families, and our plans for the holiday season. For the first time in 22 years, we didn't take a holiday photo of the kids to send to friends and relatives: it seemed time to give that tradition up, since even our youngest child is now a teenager. And we didn't talk at all about buying gifts, since we don't have little kids any more. I'm not much into buying gifts for grown-ups. But many of the other traditions will continue, some deepening with meaning over the years.

The wooden Christmas village with the British theme that my parents built for me many years ago will be relevant now to more members of my family, now that my daughter and husband have both been to the European City With the Famous Clocktower. I feel a little sad that Mama Cat will not be guarding the village this year. Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter and With-a-Why are continuing the tradition of making a Christmas chain to tack up on the walls: it's become a sister-brother bonding ritual. We'll continue to host the first of the family holiday get-togethers on the Saturday before Christmas, and I think just about everyone in the extended family will be able to come this year. (The closer the Saturday is to Christmas, the bigger the crowd we get.) We've already blocked off nights on the calendar for Christmas parties hosted by friends, but most importantly, I am looking forward to the end of the semester, when my two oldest kids will be moving home for a month. We've planned which day we will be going to get our tree, which is always one of my favorite parts of the season.

We planned the month ahead as we walked around a quiet lake that had just the thinnest layer of ice in some places. I could remember walking this same trail 22 years ago, pregnant with my first child, and excited about the new year coming because it would be the year during which I became a parent.

A group of geese in the middle of the lake rose at once, as we watched, and went flapping and honking to the far shore.


Anonymous said...

okay ... I have to ask ... does that mean that you don't buy Christmas presents for any of your kids?

jo(e) said...

We do still get our kids presents, but they aren't fun to talk about or buy. Like, last year we bought my daughter luggage because she was about to go overseas for the semester. And we bought Shaggy Hair a guitar last year, but Boy in Black picked it out, since I would have no idea to pick out a guitar.

It's not like the fun of going to a toy store.

Cathy said...

I am in the same place as you are with the kids and Christmas, except for husband's youngest and she just turned 10. We haven't talked about buying Christmas yet, and the adults don't really need anything at all.

On frozen ground - I have only walked on the ground one time where I thought it might be frozen, because it felt so different than I have ever felt it.

sam said...

Love your descriptions - thanks for transporting me out of my office for a little while!

Yankee T said...

Great post. We are doing one real gift per child, and little stuff.
Haven't been able to give up the holiday photo, though.

Anna said...

Joe, great post. It's crazy how traditions get changed and amended as we get older, but there are certain staples that remain the same, or even become more prevalent (like your nixing the presents, the sibling bonding moment, etc.). While my family traditions have changed over the years, there have been a few that have stuck around. One of my favorite traditions is sitting around and watching Christmas classics with the kids. They grew up watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and no matter how old they get, we still watch it every year. In fact, we just went out and bought the The Original Christmas Classics Limited Edition DVD Box Set at our local DVD store. It has 7 classics and a bonus Christmas music CD--great for singing Christmas carols around the fire. I'm sure the kids are going to love it this year, even if they are married. Perhaps we'll pass the tradition along to the grandkids! If you're like us and love old Christmas classics like Frosty and Rudolph, you should check out the new DVD set. I'm working to support the set, and I know that it'll make a great gift for my family this year. Trips down memory lane are great. What else do you guys have for family traditions?

St. Casserole said...

Beautiful post.

I like being able to change holidays to suit our needs. We are taking a family trip this year with friends.

Busymomma66 said...

Every year I try to start a new tradition, and every year I do. Unfortunately, I don't seem to always continue them the following year. LOL.

Songbird said...

I feel a major holiday change coming, but I don't really know how to accomplish it. And since my husband is not the father of my children, I lack that equal partner in the decision-making. It's a very strange place to be!

listie said...

For the first time in 25 years, we won't have any kids home for the holiday. Other than celebrating the Solstice with my sister, we have no plans. It's kind of strange to give up the past, but I'm also looking forward to creating new traditions.