We chose to spend Christmas Day at home this year like we have since 2004, when I was too hugely pregnant to travel safely and comfortably. Once the babies were born it wasn’t any easier; they hated the car and would cry until we scooped them out at our destination. Post-AVM, now I’m the one who hates the car. Even just riding to the grocery store is a challenge some days, so we stick around a lot in an effort to save some of my cognitive and sensory resources for keeping up with the daily grind.
But part of what we miss by staying at home is the opportunity to participate in the formal process of using tradition to mark of another day, another month, another year in our lives. When we woke up that morning and the forecast was mostly good, we knew we needed to mark the day, the holiday, and the dark, quiet nights of winter. We would go out to watch the sun set, make note of the stars, and revel in the light and warmth of a fire. And we would do this at the only nearby place we really could: the beach.
In the previous weeks some wet and windy weather had left large pieces of driftwood along the beach. Now it was dry and with the help of the breeze it burned easily and quickly. Maybe next time we’ll dig a pit to help the fire burn a little more slowly.
While dinner was cooking (camp food we had dehydrated earlier in the fall), C&D played in in the light of the fire, digging holes with their new shovels and rearranging the larger pieces of dry wood.
Carmen tried her hand at building a driftwood see-saw.
When the sun had long since gone down we looked up at the stars visible between long bands of clouds blowing in from the Gulf. C&D had never really seen stars the way Matt and I had growing up; here in Houston all but the very brightest are obscured by light pollution and moisture in the atmosphere. David looked up for a bit and asked us why the stars looked like dots, and not like the pointed asterisks we draw to represent stars. After a while C&D returned to the miracle closer at hand, the sand, while Matt and I lay on our backs with a hand up to block the high quarter moon.
As bedtime approached we threw sand on the fire and snuggled back into the car, driving back through wetlands twinkling with the pewter reflection of ponds and bayous. C&D were hungry (hungr-ee?) so we stopped at Buc-ee’s–busy since the grocery stores were all closed for the day, and where else do you get your tacos and soda and beer and ice?–to fuel up with nuts and trail mix and Beaver Nuggets. (It was Christmas and I was feeling very indulgent, hence the Nuggets.) It was ten by the time we pulled the ‘Ru into the garage. We shook off our shoes and stumbled into our pajamas. Sand and woodsmoke lingered on our skin and in our hair, but we could take care of that tomorrow. Today, however, was Christmas.