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.

This morning I was up early making two more Christmas coffee cakes and listening to the radio about bad doings in the world and Joe Cocker’s passing, and I wondered why Margaret wasn’t at work yet. Did she slide into a ditch on the way? Sleep in? Yesterday she was funny when she signed on with a “Good morning,” and a big sigh. I was right there with her. I had an anxiety dream about Christmas and how I’d done nothing. The sigh made me laugh– and then get to it. (Turns out that today because I have been up since before five, and Margaret doesn’t arrive until six, that she’s fine.) Anyway, so  I baked two cakes yesterday, one to leave for Stoli and Nels and the babies for Christmas morning in Haines with Nels’ family, another to bring to Juneau for our breakfast with Eliza and Justin, but I wanted to bake one  for the neighbors’  Christmas morning too (I have been doing this for about 20 years now. The children of the children who used to enjoy it are now school age.) The fourth goes to another friend who had a December like ours only worse– while Grandma Joanne survived, and I would say is even thriving following her open heart surgery, my friend’s mother did not, and she just returned after sad weeks down south and now has all her college aged kids arriving on the same ferry we are heading out on. The least I can do is make her a coffee cake, don’t think? Plus– I like to. It’s better somehow than shopping.

I hadn’t even bought a present until yesterday, when I went to the bookstore and got it covered, more or less.  Our family is all scattered this holiday — which is good. We all live close by,  so it’s nice for the in-laws to have the girls on the special days, and my fisherman son is surfing in Nicaragua. We decided a long time ago, after the annual deer hunts were over Thanksgiving, that our family feasts are moveable.  The next big party will be JJ’s wedding in July. Grandma Joanne says she’s even coming.

It’s nice to have the time this year to enjoy a different kind of tradition. Last night I joined the carolers at Haines Assisted Living, there were fiddles and banjos and mandolins and guitars and a portable electric piano and ukuleles and it was about as much fun as people can have, belting out everything from Joy to the World and Hark the Herald Angels to Jingle Bells (we did that twice, maybe three times, by request– Rudolf got an encore too– and when I asked one of the regular Monday night singers about that he said, “Don’t worry about it, it happens all the time, they don’t remember.”) Then a bunch of us went and sang for Nikki who is blind and can’t get out much anymore. My face hurts from laughing so much.

When we stepped outside after singing, “Through the years we all will be together” it didn’t matter that it was raining instead of snowing. We really have been all together through the years in this community that is like family.

 And now I have some coffee cakes to deliver and an overnight bag to pack. The ferry leaves in a few hours. I hope your holidays are bright– and that as Joe Cocker is singing on the radio right now– Love lifts you up where you belong.