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How trite it sounds but how profound the reality. In this, my first season living by the lake, I notice every change. Today was a day of quiet observation. It started with an awe-inspiring sunrise. Then came a realization;  though I went through the generationally-challenging stage of menopause years ago, my body and mind still react to the natural rhythms of the world around me. I was cranky, impatient and weepy all day. The emotions washed over me as I watched from afar and thought, “Really bitch?!? You just went through the most stressful 12 months of your life and now this pops up with no particular provocation?”

The end of the day brought a sunset that was deep and slow. Alice and I watched it play out from the couch after our leisurely walk to the boat launch. There was a dead Red Squirrel at the first turn in the road, ducks who loudly complained at our intrusion at the second turn , and a few cars who passed slowly and waved. The rhythm and routine of our daylight hours are settled and calm. What a difference a year makes…

Holiday lights. We’ve reached the iconic point of the year where the days are shorter than the nights. And it is still a shock. As the daylight becomes muted and scarce, lighting becomes crucial to maintaining my mood. Perhaps that is why we jam a bunch of celebrations into the months ending and beginning the calendar. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are literally beacons of light in the dead of winter. In small-town-America, we joyfully greet perfect strangers with wishes of a Happy Holidays!!  Smiles light up otherwise time-worn faces.

Alice and I make our walks around the lake at the end of the day. Sometimes we are early enough to catch the sun setting over the mountains to the west. Other days, I don my headlamp to illuminate our steps and make us more visible to the cars we meet. The few homes we pass that are year-round residences glow from within.  The summer cottages sit silent and dark, windows reflecting the fading sunlight on the water.

I’ve begun my annual ritual of writing and posting Christmas Cards. That may not be politically correct, better to call them Holiday Cards. But for over 60 years this has been the season of Christmas to me. In 1988 we bought our first house and the Welcome Wagon basket kindly included an address book containing the names of local businesses with lots of room to add personal addresses and information. I have dragged this cheap, plastic relic around with me because it contains contact information for those I connect with once a year through a handwritten card. Every year, I page through it and marvel at the memories it provokes. Many entries are folks who are no longer with us, almost as many are people I have lost touch with. Some friends and family have whole pages dedicated to them as they moved repeatedly. There are a few mysterious names I can no longer associate with the person. Perhaps we were close enough to send cards for a year or so, then life moved on and I have no recollection of them.

I wonder, do they open their Christmas Card list, see my name and wonder the same?

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3 comments on “What a difference a year makes…

  1. Doppelgänger says:

    Merry Christmas to you too! You are so good to be writing cards. I remember my dad doing it and receiving so many back. It was fun to stick the back side between the books lining his library and display all the pretty fronts. Great holiday memory.

    1. Thanks Dopp! Loved your Dad and happy to know I am carrying on his tradition as well.

  2. They will always be Christmas cards in my world too. So few people send them anymore. It sounds so peaceful at the lake. Do they even have a Welcome Wagon anymore?

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