All Is Calm, All Is Bright - Guest Post from Snowy Colorado
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
As I've always said, at least once in a lifetime it's a beautiful thing to experience a Northern Hemisphere Christmas. I like to have a friend guest post here every December, which is why I am so excited to introduce you to my American friend Lisa from Things Here Lately. Lisa is a gifted writer and photographer, and it is a privilege for me to have her guest post on my blog today about celebrating Christmas in the winter. She lives with her family in the spectacularly gorgeous State of Colorado and I kid you not it will add some happy into your busy pre-Christmas day to pop over and get to know Lisa and see more of her amazing photography. Thank you Lisa for bringing some of your winter beauty Down-Under!
"Snow/ To see a mountain covered with a quilt of snow." - Irving Berlin, "Snow" from White Christmas
Snow. The very first thing I thought of when Rachel kindly asked me if I would share with her my family's Northern Hemisphere Christmas experiences. Snow. I woke up to 3 more inches of the white, fluffy, powdery stuff this morning.
It is still a bit of a surprise to me. This is only my second ever White Christmas, having moved with my husband and our three kids from the coastal climate of Houston, Texas, to the mountain climate of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a year and a half ago. I am truly in awe of it. It is not uncommon to find me standing at the window, staring outside at the fairy world that is a Rocky Mountain winter. I love it.
But some things stay the same. Seasonal traditions that we have enjoyed together as long as we have been "us". There is a lot of baking. Sweet Spiced Pecans that are packaged up and shipped to my husband's work colleagues. Scottish Butter Shortbread to eat with an afternoon cup of tea, all sprinkled with white sparkly sugar to look like it is covered in, yes, snow. Christmas-Eve-Only cookies called Cocoa Snowflakes. (Because the only things better than dark chocolate and snowflakes are dark chocolate snowflakes!)
There is the listening to Christmas music all day (but only after Thanksgiving). I have a different favorite Christmas song every year, it seems. Last year it was "A Marshmallow World". Ironically enough, this year it is "Mele Kalikimaka".
There are the Christmas movies in the evenings after dinner. Popcorn popping. Fireplace burning. Winter stitching. Bundled up together on the couch under a Christmas quilt.
There is my sewing room with the door closed. No kids allowed! It has magically turned into Santa's Workshop full of gifts and stocking stuffers and candies and wrapping paper and ribbons. Amazingly, the kids stay away. They don't want to ruin their surprises. They have more self-control than I ever did.
With the addition of snow has come the addition of a new Christmas tradition. If you ask my husband what that is, he would tell you it is the regular shoveling of inches and inches of snow from the driveway and deck, or worrying about the feet and feet of snow that melt into thick ice dams on the eaves of the roof. (I have threatened to called him "Scrooge".) No, that new tradition is Snow Days! Spend ten minutes putting layers of clothes and snow boots on and go outside to play in a winter wonderland. Build a snowman. Throw snowballs. Make a snow fort to guard the cabin. Sled. Make a snow angel. Follow the tracks left in the snow by deer or chipmunks or foxes. (Sometimes we are lucky enough to spot one.) Sooner or later Mom comes outside with a platter of warm crepes to eat, the outside play is concluded, the kids come inside and spend ten minutes taking off their snow boots and peeling off layers of clothes. Hot cocoa all around while sitting by the hearth. Contented sighs everywhere. I am reminded to slow down and savor every single moment. I am reminded to remember to breathe.
I remember meeting one of our new neighbors for the first time when we first arrived. (Another transplant from Texas.) "Just wait 'til Christmas...it is magical!" she said. And she was right. Even though there is the excitement of the season, the frenzied wrapping of gifts, the busyness of cooking and baking, there is an underlying calm to it all. A season of joy. The celebration of Advent. The promise of His Coming. The days are ended with an Advent reading, and I feel hopeful. In the midst of the achings of our hurting world and the sufferings of our broken souls, there is Hope. "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows:.."
Of course, there is little sleeping done in the kids' rooms on the night of Christmas Eve. The lights are out and they are all tucked in their beds, but the visions of Sugarplums are too vivid and exciting to allow for much rest. I can see Bing Crosby sitting in the dining car of a train headed for Vermont with the hopes of a White Christmas in my mind.
"I'd love to stay up with you/ But I recommend a little shut-eye/ Go to sleep and dream of...snow. SNOW."