THAT SAID, I MADE MY WREATH TODAY, the five-foot circle of fir boughs that traditionally hangs across the Nuthatch’s front wall of windows on these darkest days of the year.
So I’ve declared it officially Christmastime. And Hanukkah. Solstice season. Or whatever jolliness you choose to celebrate in the gloom of winter.
Rose O’Donnell was the hard-boiled chief of the features copy desk, my boss when I first went to work at The Seattle Times, and if a lowly copy editor such as myself in those days used the all-time cliché headline “‘Tis the Season” on a holiday-related story, you risked having your pay docked, your pets turned out into the street, and your stocking filled with coal. Or at least having a pica pole thrown at you.
I raise a mug of eggnog to Rose’s meticulous standards, and announce without further fanfare that my wreath is up, along with the swag by the front door.
Just a week ago Lillian and I were celebrating Thanksgiving at a little camping cabin at Camano Island State Park, where we gobbled some really good burgers (garnished with sage, blue cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms, mmmm) fried up on our camp stove. We decided this year that we should do something different for the holidays, because without Barbara nothing would be the same anyway. Our Thanksgiving venture was quietly delightful.
For Christmas, Lillian and I are going away again, to cottages on the Washington coast with friends. I’m not having a Christmas tree at the Nuthatch; that was my sweetie’s favorite effort of the year, elaborately decorating a fragrant fir in our living room. She would bake up a storm, and pile the gifts high. I can’t do it on my own, not this year.
But my daughter and I have good Yuletide plans, and other treasured friends are coming to my cabin for a masked soiree on New Year’s Eve. It’s undeniably a tough holiday season, but I’m doing my best to keep spirits up. And remembering my sweetheart, who so loved Christmas.
Hold dear ones close and stay warm this winter, my friends.