It’s a Christmas miracle. Despite all my bitter griping, overbearing skepticism and bouts with tearful loneliness prior to 6 PM on Christmas Eve, I have had a wonderful and lovely holiday this year. I am a bit startled by it all, and most assuredly grateful.
The change of heart started in my stomach. I cooked up a storm over the past 24 hours, doling out high-caloric love by the ladleful, slice and forkful for Husband and his parents, who joined us for dessert last night and brunch this morning. For the Eve, I resurrected my family’s treasured tradition of sette pesci, and even though we ate just tre pesci (can two people really sample seven fish dishes all by themselves?), it was enough to convince me that everything was right with the world. I even let the Christmas carols play all evening–after all, they went so well with the roaring fire, the twinkly tree sheltering a stack of presents, and the white snow piled outside our windows.
My in-laws arrived soon after we’d cleared away the dishes and stuffed the last little gifts into their stockings. I was so happy to have them over. I am one of those rare, lucky people with excellent in-laws: funny, loving, real people who mind their own business. (Plus, my mother-in-law is the only other woman I know who swears as much as I do.) Drinks were poured, chocolate mint mini souffles were put into the oven.
Christmas morning ,we all slept in until around 9 AM. Lots of big good morning hugs all around (I LOVE big hugs). Husband got the fire going, I put the coffee on. Honey buckwheat pancakes, fruit salad, eggs over easy, bacon, fresh-squeezed orange juice. Then a bit of digesting and lounging. A bunch of MERRY XMAS texts came through over the BlackBerry, from my girlfriends who are spread across the country. Then we bid adieu to my in-laws, exchanged a glance, and immediately returned to lounging in front of the fireplace. Eventually, Husband got up to go chop some wood, and I got up to go for my proscribed 3-miler.
In this, too, I was lucky. Last night’s rain had washed away all the slush and ice off the roads in my development, so I could just walk up my path and tweak my Pocono Loop, rather than having to drive to clearer streets. Even though I was spending the day indoors in jeans and a 10-year old flannel shirt, it seemed important for me to “dress up” for today’s run. I donned my navy blue running tights, my blue SmartWool socks, and my light blue long sleeved technical tee (beneath it my Crayola blue tank top). The only things marring this excellent coordination were Little G and my red running gloves. I felt like a sliver of blue ice; I even liked the way my blue eyes flashed (dare I say merrily?) as I looked in the mirror to tuck my pigtails neatly under my hat.
Because I am safe within the wooded tranquility of my Pennsylvania house, this run didn’t need to be my oasis of calm the way I have relied upon it to be during Christmases Past. Nevertheless, it was special. I have started to give serious thought to my running goals for the year, and some of them crystallized for me during today’s 3 miles. Rather than using my time on the road as a chance to escape, I didn’t mind reflecting on my family, and on all the happy Christmas memories I’ve had with those dearest to me over the years.
Trust me, people: this is landmark.
I returned from my run (3.2 in 28:12) and grabbed the camera. I took a picture of Husband looking like some scary, backwoods trapper, as he stood in front of the wood he’d just chopped, wielding the ax. Then, he took a few pictures of me as I fruitlessly tried to make a snow angel–last night’s rain had frozen a crust of ice that I couldn’t break through. Afterwards, I stood briefly on our porch and took stock. A snow-covered forest. Family in our home. Thoughtful presents. Good food. Laughter. A crackling fire. Time to run; time to play. Matilda. This kind of Christmas, I thought, I could get used to.