Sunday, December 26, 2010
It's a blizzard night in New York as I write this. The streets are quiet, muffled by snow and not yet lined with the tracks of cabs and plows. Street signs blink their litanies to empty sidewalks. From here, snowflakes are swirling and diving in all directions above the ground. Our windows are speckled with snow and ice but the pink sky looms beyond, a haze of snowy light lacquered onto the darkness. The snow dampens everything.
We had a very nice Christmas this year, the three of us. On Christmas Eve L made a beef brisket, beets, roasted potatoes, green and yellow beans, and salad. Our appetizer was parsnip and leek soup. Dessert was double chocolate-chip muffins, with some vanilla ice cream. Our friends came over, along with their daughter and one set of their parents. We had a great meal, a long, warm night, listening to the same set of Christmas carols several times over. And the most exciting element of Christmas Eve -- Alice started crawling! Finally the pieces clinked in her head -- she could move from lying down to sitting to scooching to pulling herself up to crawling, like an extremely methodical elementary-level break dancer. She started trundling all over the place, from the family room to the kitchen, pausing to slap on boxes or pull down Christmas gifts or check out the wheels of the stroller.
On Christmas day Alice wasn't that into the presents, although she enjoyed tearing apart tissue paper. We went to church, where of course they asked us to bring up the gifts to the altar, which gave me something to worry about for the first 2/3rds of the mass. But it was wonderful, with an amazing choir that really knocked the carols out of the park. This Christmas I thought a lot about the Christmas story as the story of a child's birth and as an experience of new parenthood, which tapped into some deep and visceral emotions at unexpected times. I suppose every parent thinks their child's birth is worthy of the choirs of angels and the shepherds and the magi. Or at least a room at the inn; how could a parent abide with the indignity of their infant among the livestock and the hay? Somehow it was all enough to get me choked up a little during "Silent Night," which had never happened before.
After church we went to a delicious brunch at our friends' -- amazing quiche, french toast bread pudding. Our friends got us amazing gifts. Because my friend John always has these amazingly cool sneakers that I never have the guts or panache to purchase myself, he bought me a pair -- I was overwhelmed. It was the perfect gift, since I would never dare to buy them, but would always covet them and rue my own shoe conservatism. (I am not a good gift-giver; I'm not good at projecting what others would want. I'm too much a creature of habit to make that imaginative leap. This is a handicap I try to overcome every year.)
The rest of Christmas day was quiet and relaxing at home. We were all very exhausted. Our exhaustion rolled pleasantly into today, and we were happy to bundle up at home amid the Christmas lights and the pleasantly churning snowstorm outside. We ventured out late in the day, packing up Alice in her new snowsuit from Great Grammy and Great Grampy, and went up Claremont to 116th, then through the bright lights at Columbia, then down to the subway at 110th. We passed several restaurants that looked warm and inviting, a perfect place for a drink. But this is not the kind of winter; maybe if the baby wasn't an issue, or if money wasn't an issue -- but two strikes was enough today. A year ago we could have gone in for a nice beer or a warm drink and an appetizer -- would have sat in the warmth and let our noses run as we took a moment to watch the snow fall on Broadway, resting and enjoying a few moments of conviviality before venturing back into the predictable discomfort of a storm. But this is a different kind of winter.
I am excited to see the city that will greet us in the morning! What a blessing to have our family tucked in at home as the snow globe whirls on around us.