I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

It’s the calm before the family storm ( and there is a real blizzard blowing outside). Chip’s cold is improving and the Juneau kids are on the ferry and it has departed Auke Bay for Haines ( a little late but the Kennicott is undaunted by the high winds and freezing spray.)

Here, I’m changing sheets and switching rooms– since Chip and I are moving to Papa Bob’s old bed to give them the big front room ( Christian just went to get the cots for the kids from the garage.)

I have even managed to bake the coffee cakes for Christmas breakfast– they are my grandmother’s recipe and my mother always made one. ( I did have to improvise after I couldn’t find the middle ring of one of the spring form pans, but the can worked.)

The kids wrote letters to Santa and mailed them in the Haines post office last week and the replies arrived yesterday in time to open them this morning.

The boys read theirs out loud, and Christian read Lila’s to her.

I know, I’m crying happy tears too–

A minute ago, while I was grabbing the towels to wash upstairs, JJ said, “I’m not sure how to say to this, or if it is proper. I know it’s not a happy anniversary, but it is a year, and I’m thinking of you.”

“Thank you.”

This morning, while everyone was still sleeping, Chip and I had a quiet moment and I noticed Papa Bob’s chair by the woodstove. He died after dinner last Christmas Eve sleeping on the couch.  He liked sitting close to the fire and needed the sturdy arms of that birch chair that a friend made us. His seat appeared to be empty, but something about it was full, comfortable even– present– if that makes any sense at all? My heart is full. May yours be too.