A snow day in the balmy North Carolina of global warming times is a rarity. I have always loved this experience. The highway grows quiet. The wood stove snaps and pops and talks back, baking one end of the den. The cat sleeps the whole day. Crystals are on all five million tiny tree branches. Black crows come out to bring some contrast. If I’m up early, the sky throws in some color– pink and yellow. This year it’s happening just before Christmas.
In North Carolina these rare snowfalls are considered excuse enough to retreat and give in to hot chocolate and fireside sitting. One of my favorite memories is being on the farm with three little boys, the power having been knocked out by a terrible ice storm. We had no water, but we had the wood stove to cook on and sit beside. At night, we lit the pair of antique candelabra from a time when people counted on candlelight. Ten candles is sufficient to read by, I learned, so I read to my boys until bedtime. My nineteenth century house seemed made for the lack of electricity.
I have grown bored with my over-decorated Frazier Firs for Christmas, so for the last couple of years I have harvested a bare branched sapling from my woods and brought it inside, hung a couple of glass icicles and crystal raindrops from it’s branches, perched a bird’s nest from my extensive collection in it, and called it the Christmas tree. It’s an abstraction of the intense loveliness I see out my window this morning.
Merry, cozy, beauty-filled Christmas to us all.