Home for the Holidays

I was supposed to be in Juneau to read a piece I wrote about the Snow Dragon, the parade, and the Lighting of the Fort-- my favorite Haines Christmas traditions, for a KTOO and 360 North holiday special on Thursday,  visit my daughters,  and then from Juneau head up to Anchorage for a party. A party. Me. I know. Anyway, the weather was so bad I couldn't fly to Juneau in time for the show, but there was a ferry a day later, on Friday, which I took in a blizzard to see the girls, and because I still was supposed to fly to Anchorage Sunday. (I did, had a fine time, and flew back to Juneau Monday but had to wait out the weather as there was no ferry, or planes  flying due to weather on Monday, and return home a day late-- but I had one more night with my children as a lucky bonus.)  Turns out accepting these invitations meant I'd miss the Saturday parade I was supposed to brag about. My husband says I jinxed it by making it out to be so wonderful.  For only the second time in anyone's memory the parade was canceled and the 27 foot long Snow Dragon did not roar through town in a hail of firecrackers and smoke scaring the wits out of little children.  About three feet of snow fell Friday, and then it warmed up to 40 and poured rain Saturday, which turned the parade route-- Main Street-- into a deep creek of icy slush. Plus the wind and rain made the weather so frightful no one dared brave it. The Lighting of the Fort had already been canceled because the organizer will be celebrating Christmas out of town with her family this year. That's the thing about traditions, they take people to maintain them (and weather to cooperate.) And really, what I learned on my trip is that the best Haines holiday traditions have more to do with what we don't have than what we have. Less people, less traffic, and above all less stuff-- especially less junky, mass market gift kind of stuff. I didn't shop while I was away. I'm buying my gifts here, mostly at the bookstore. What is nice about going away, even for only a few days, is that I learned again that the season is about people-- friends and family-- and goodwill. The best part of my trip was seeing my daughters in Juneau-- twice---  then meeting new people in Anchorage, and finally  coming home for the holidays. Before I left I had been a little (okay, a lot) panicked by my lack of preparation. (Shopping, basically.) Now I'm not. Haines has everything I want, and if I can't find here, I probably don't need it anyway. My first gift of the day was walking (fast, it was freezing, 1 degree and windy)  with a friend and our dogs as the moon set in the valley, and having her say yes to a cup of coffee afterwards in my warm kitchen.

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