Emerging From A White Christmas

Sometimes, all the forces just seem to come together. Our first full-family Christmas in ten years — and in fifteen years, if you count my mother’s grandkids, now all adults — turned into one of those days people write entire books trying to capture or experience through their words.
We gathered on the western slope of Colorado, heading in from all directions by car. I had some interesting experiences along the way: discussing poetry and the writing of a memoir with a 78-year-old woman suffering from terminal liver cancer; running stride-for-hop with a quartet of kangaroos at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis (now there’s a story — running with kangaroos in December in St. Louis?); staying the night in Hays, Kansas, where many scenes from my favorite movie, Dances With Wolves, were filmed; heading through the Rockies on a blustery day in which fresh snow honeycombed off the tallest peaks; and reminiscing about the last time I was in the heart of the Rockies — December 1999, when a freckle-faced 12-year-old redhead nearly stole Vans Snowboard Halfpipe event at Breckenridge from the world’s greatest pros. His name? Shaun White. He’s dominated the sport since, in the same way Kelly Slater owned surfing and Tony Hawk — like Shaun, from my hometown of Carlsbad, Calif. — defined skateboarding.
We gathered to celebrate together and honor my mother, who’s fighting cancer. She showed up with a sleigh-load of presents, and everyone in the room conveyed a spirit of life I haven’t seen in my family in ages. With a couple inches of snow on the ground, it looked like we’d experience something my mother hasn’t seen in 40 years — a White Christmas, even if that was gauged by standing snow.
I awoke at 3 a.m. on Christmas morning. I looked outside the window. Snow. After writing a short-story and a poem, my creative faculties revved up from the day and the weather activity, I looked outside the window again. It was dumping. It fell on the city of Montrose as though a single cloud dumped the White Christmas for my mother’s benefit. It kept going right through Christmas services, through a mid-day gift opening and up until dinner, some 12 inches later. All of the surrounding areas received four or five inches, including the nearby mountains. I looked at my mother. “You brought the magic of the day,” I said.
As one who follows tradition about as often as freezing rain falls in Hawaii, I found myself slipping into the whole deal — Christmas carols, snowball fights, making snow angels, writing down names of people who gave me gifts to send thank-you cards, shooting photos, telling tales of Christmasses past, talking with my nieces and nephew about things that mattered to them.
I also learned something that warmed my heart: my two nieces are going to fly high in the creative arts and communications, one a fabulous photographer, the other a very good writer and graphic designer. To see their work, and to learn my books have been circulating in their classrooms, really brought home the purpose of writing … to express and share a window with others.
It was one of those Christmas days about which people dream. One thing is for certain — I will be writing more about it. Next winter, images from this day will either be in print or in an e-book.
One final note about our White Christmas: The 12-inch snowfall in Montrose was the most for a Christmas Day since 1895. For a day, the matriarch of our family wove her magic … and we celebrated the greatest gift of all, living fully.

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Filed under Books, Christmas, Editing, Featured Websites, literature, poetry, Writing

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