Friends Gather Near
We missed the party at the Klondike last night because an old friend arrived from Anchorage, over the rivers and passes and through the snow. He was kind of groggy from the 900 mile drive, especially the last 150 miles in a white-out following the snowplow's tail-lights through the Chilkat Pass. The Haines road was closed, but a Yukon maintenance guy said he could follow him at his own risk, so he did. The least I could do was give him a cold beer and cook him a warm meal. The ferry south (he lives in Juneau) left at 1:00am, so we all still went off to the high school basketball game (the Haines girls almost won, and the gym was full) while he napped by the fire.
After the game, we all kept him company while he waited for the boat, and that's why we were still awake when my sister walked in and said she had just slipped her rig on the ice and snow into the ditch in front of our house. (She had been dropping off my niece at a slumber party after the game.) My friend used his new truck (that's why he was in Anchorage) to pull her out, and was pleased and proud that it worked so well.
We had another surprise guest the other night, just as we were sitting down to dinner, Joanne and Phyllis came by with their new Newfoundland puppy Zebby. He looks like a black bear cub. They had already eaten, but pulled up chairs and visited. Phyllis sold us some Legion Auxiliary raffle tickets too.
The next morning, Chip and I were sitting in the dark, with the tree lights on, and the fire glowing orange behind the window on the woodstove, sipping coffee, when we heard the front door open. I wondered if one of my children had been out all night, and then, now that they are in a college, if I can tell them not to do that.
Turns out they were in their beds dreaming of sugarplums. It was another friend. He noted that it was not that early, it was 8:15. It was just so dark it seemed like 4:00 am. He said he'd rather have tea than coffee, and joined us as we waited for the sun to rise and we all talked about the local news.
All this is to say, that this is what those Christmas songs mean. Friends who are dear to us, gather near to us once more. I am thinking about last night's game too, and looking forward to tonight's (6:30 in the Karl Ward Gym). Attending the games is a little like dropping in to visit all kinds of friends and neighbors.