It’s icing outside.
I hear the ice hitting the windows and feel relieved to be inside.
The technical definition, according to Weather.Com is "light freezing rain," but I prefer to say ice.
Our tree, decorated, stands by a window, and the ice is just on the other side of the glass. The tree is inside, the ice outside, and I am somewhere else in my mind but pulled back by the tapping of sharp drops, pellets of winter on a dark, cold night.
The past three days, full of conversations and contemplations, have left me in a mood to hibernate, but Christmas is coming, and that sort of deep drawing within will not be possible. I will finish editing bulletins, and try to get ahead on sermons, and fulfill obligations and hope to find a way to get the shopping done. For the first time in many years I will watch a Christmas Pageant in which I had no hand. I will celebrate Christmas with a community for the first time and the last.
I wonder where next year will find me? We are passing into a new phase of our lives here, with no assurance that our oldest will be home next year at Christmas or even that this will continue to be our home. We are passing into a new phase of life, in which young things believe they can tell their parents what will be, and this parent does not know how to respond other than to feel shocked and hope to handle it better when the inevitable next time comes.
I think of all the years I did not spend Christmas with my parents, because I lived so far away. I hope I won’t seem as expendable to my children as they move into adulthood, although today I fear I might be.
There is something about being 25 or even 30 and thinking all the same people will always be available to you, that you will be able to stop by the same houses and drink the same eggnog no matter how many years go by.
It’s quiet outside now, although the computer tells me we are now experiencing sleet, that wetter version of the earlier ice. I’m still glad to be inside the house.
Inside my head, I hear the tapping of time and have an odd desire to freeze the thoughts in my head just where they are, in order to study them more deeply. I want a snapshot of the characters skating on the surface of the inner landscape, some waltzing gracefully and some stumbling around the edges, some racing and shouting joyfully while others struggle to do up their laces.