The Christmas season came and went -- a blur really. I had hoped to slow it all down -- to relish in the simple, spontaneous moments but got caught up in the whirlwind. December started out quickly with a trip my husband had planned to Shanghai, A short trip, really -- only seven days -- there and back in no time. No time to brush up on his Mandarin or much sight seeing -- just business. He has been to China many times. He first went to China during a college overseas program. After China he moved to Taiwan to teach English for a year. Since I have known him (more than eighteen years) he has been back and forth many times. At one point, before autism entered our lives, he had hoped to live there with the boys and me for a summer at least, maybe longer. But like many plans that at one point seemed so reasonable and logistical, it soon became unlikely. But who knows for sure.
We headed out to Chicago for the holidays to catch up with family. Ten days that came and went like wind -- fast and furious and never enough time to see all those who we want to see. It snowed, my parents’ front lawn looking like sheet cake -- smooth and white glinted with sparkles. The boys joined their cousins for sledding and snowball fights, Sean running and laughing his cheeks burning red with chill, his boots wet with melting snow. The days peeled by like Christmas wrapping paper torn from boxes and toys -- the anticipation building and peaking to an ear-splitting crescendo, leaving my mind ringing with echoes days after.
And today, back in Portland, I watch the snow lingering in the dusk -- like feathers from a torn pillow, floating carelessly. The flakes tangling in the empty branches of the elms and maples, like diamond bangles on bony wrists, like silver spider webs in the giant firs, like melting starlight spilling on the ground, the swingset, the lattice in the garden. For an evening, my backyard looks like a postcard -- a winter wonderland and I catch my breath every time I look out the big picture window.
It slows me down, reminds me to take a moment to drink it all in, the reflection of the Christmas lights twinkling off the glass, the sounds of the sleds being pulled into the garage, my childrens’ excited breathless laughter and the wet puddles at the door. This is the gift I have wanted most -- this present with its dreamy bow on top, hugged in ribbons -- a snowy memory swimming in tissue paper.
Tomorrow it will probably all be gone -- the marine layer working it’s way in, the colder winds shrugging off to the east and the snow warming to rain, washing it all away like a shaken Etch-a-Sketch. And tonight will seem only a dream, the branches losing their coats of silver and crystal melting to a swirl, the miracle of it all so fleeting.