We went away for Christmas, rented a place in the mountains. All the boys came home. They are scattering again, leaving only the youngest behind, but for a few days we were again a family of six. Seven, if you count Henry the Snowman.
The water behind him is the South Fork of the New River, outside of Boone, North Carolina. The cabin had a fully outfitted kitchen, a stone fireplace, and a game room downstairs with a pool table and ping-pong. We took turns cooking, went hiking in the snow, threw a few snowballs, relaxed. It is the memories of all our Christmases together, the early years of Santa, thousands of cookies, old decorations brought out and rediscovered, that bring me a wistfulness when I look back. There has to come a year when they form new bonds, move on to their own Christmases, and it will fall to me to accept that, and to let go. But it was not this year.
Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home.