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Christmas in January

I am writing a Christmas show. It’s the end of January and my tree is still up. The needles cling ferociously to bulbs when I leave it this long: crispy little green fingers, clutching like the dying clutch. I hate to disrobe him and throw him into a heap on the front porch for Fellow to chop. One really shouldn’t have to do something this macabre until Easter. He was a fat and lovely fir.Photo on 2016-01-29 at 2.35 PM #2IMG_3319

I am too intimidated to write so I pack up the ornaments instead. Maybe if my house is cleaner my brain will clear up? I tuck all the shiny firetrucks into tissue paper. I handle all the home made ornaments with tenderness. I smile at a little circle with Nora’s baby face pressed inside of it, like the centre of a flower. I carefully cradle her crayon angel. I wonder if my favourite big pink bulb is with her Dad? I don’t even remember sorting through the “yours” and “mine” that must have happened during the divorce. Too painful to remember I guess. And in Fellow’s Christmas ornament box, at the very bottom I see a crumpled happy new year from his ex-wife and a card written to a now dead dog. I sigh. Our children have had a complicated life.

Some of the ornaments from Fellow and the other child I didn’t get a good look at before they were nestled into the branches. This is our first Christmas together. How old was the child when they made this? Who gave the child this one? I bet the child gave this one to Dad. This lovely child who has come into my life. We gently get to know each other. My eyes blink away water. I whisper to a little glass polar bear, “I love you already.” I make another promise as I tuck a nutcracker soldier into bed. “We are family forever. I didn’t know that until I knew it. Now I know it. For good.”

I unstring the lights from around the bannisters and boughs. Feels grinchy. I ponder Mother Mary on the back of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and it makes me chuckle. I listen to my old dog snore and stare out at the soggy sea. Still. Nothing. Can’t write. Why? Why was it so effortless when I was younger? It’s just a fun little sweet show and I know the theatre and I know the audience. It couldn’t be more of a love-in. But oh I’ve had some crushing critiques over the years and it makes me skittish. How I don’t want to look ridiculous. How I don’t want to risk boring people. How I desperately want to write something that will justify my existence. No wonder I can’t write. That’s a tall order.IMG_3312

Let’s walk. I have to get in my 10,000 steps and the rain has momentarily abated. My ancient pup perks up. I step past the felled Christmas tree on the porch and sploosh through the water on the road. My dog, half husky, trots right through the middle of deep puddles up to his belly, lapping along the way. He’s loving it. We walk down to Cate’s beach again and I find a huge uprooted tree on the beach. There’s something Totem about the snaking story underneath the trunk. The gnarls and snarls and courageous sprouts. The sturdy legs and the network of nourishing arms and bulbous little upstarts. All sorts of history went into this mammoth life before it fell. And now it lies on the beach, basking in the bit of sun that is starting to peek over the Lion’s Bay ridge. I run my hand along its smooth sea worn underbelly. I sigh into its grandmotherly greatness. What a body of work.IMG_3315

As I head back, the sun lights a mossy forest, free of predators. A waterfall has sprung.

I open the door and stomp my boots and shake the rain off. I brew a cup of espresso, breaking my coffee fast, and pour it into my favourite cup.

“Espresso is part of my process. Why stop now?”

I sit down to my computer and click on the doc.

Perhaps writing from a place of fear and humility isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, perhaps it is necessary. I whisper to my title page, “I love you already.”IMG_3317

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