The holiday rush begins.
Not quite here. There are no stores, no restaurants, no coffee shops, no flashing lights luring you in to buy, buy, buy; no Santas on the corner ringing bells reminding you to share your wealth. There are no corners for that matter. Here is a world of soft, curved unrefined lines. Nature, not neighbors, to compare with. No treats or temptations except for those we create with what we have. And as I see so often, we have so much. Often, it seems, too much. Will we ever learn to let go, curb our desire to feel we need more?
Bob brings home the mail from his weekly trip to town, stacks of shiny catalogues filled with suggestions to spend, spend, spend. We flip through to see if there is anything we can’t live without. Nothing. And into the fire they go.
The big forecasted storm once again turns into not much at all, just enough to freshen the mountain with a clean sheet of snow. Despite a road rough and unplowed, with a little help from chains or studded tires, a crew of 13 gathers in the early winter snow for this holiday. It looks more like Christmas than Thanksgiving with the ski poles and down jackets, Elmer Fudd hats and heavy snow covered boots lined up at the door when we gather at the big cabin for meals.
Yes, we do the traditional feast regardless of how untraditional I feel. Sister brings the turkey, brother the potatoes, brother’s wife the desserts, Mom the veggie sides. I bake the rolls with the little nieces. Traditional dinner rolls end up in shapes like cowboy boots, hearts, braids and dog biscuits.
Traditions. There are a few traditions the three of us keep. Very few. But somehow they seem important. Perhaps they are a semblance of order in an otherwise chaotic world. Knowing what you’ll have for dinner just a few nights out of the year somehow brings us security. We grasp for order to stabilize the uncertainty. Traditions provide.
What would really happen if we let go, if we walked away from all tradition and started each day fresh and new without ties, obligations, and assumptions? Would we feel lost or free? Would the world open up, or in that lack of order and recognition would we find nothing but bedlam and never soothe our soul with the comfort of family, friends, and yes, even food?
We make elaborate designs for the day yet the children and dogs remind us – laughter, pleasure, and play – these are easy to come by. No plot or preparation needed. Just wake up and start the day. Forgot the fancy feasts and the best laid plans, and just begin building the snow fort or sledding down the hill. How sweet these simple pleasures!
And so we spend our Thanksgiving together, with so many here in our otherwise quiet wintery world. Perhaps it is not much more than a shallow tradition seeped in abundance. But I ask myself if I would want to do without, and I’d rather keep this one – if only that it means family, friends and a regularity and date on which to base the rest of the year.
The thermometer reached 18 below zero. Another storm cleared out. The sky ends up mid day a ridiculous shade of blue that matches one of the little girl’s jackets – store bought and brand new, you would say most unnatural. But this is real. Blinding. We strap on our snowshoes while the turkey is in the oven and escape and for a few moments only perhaps, each of us are a part of the mountain, together.