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.

I listened to Christmas carols, the traditional  kind from an English church choir, as I pedaled to nowhere on the stationary bike at 6 am. Later, I took a walk at sunrise (well, around ten? it felt like sunrise anyway), before the kids from Australia came over from the little house next door (they are here until the 13th)– and I thought about Christmas, in general and this one in particular. I have always had moveable feasts. Christmas or Thanksgiving, even birthdays, can be held in the general time frame (give or take a few weeks or even months). They don’t have to be celebrated on the exact day. What matters is that we are here, together. So this is unusual, all of us here at Christmastime, a season so loaded with sentiment and expectations.

The holidays, holy days, are  chock full of ghosts of Christmas past. Betty’s cookies were part of ours for years, never mind that they were mostly inedible (this feels like a betrayal but it’s true.) I miss them. I’d even eat one now that she is no longer living in the neighborhood. I hope my regular prayer that I believe in the resurrection is really true.

I think that’s why as we get older holidays are sometimes sadder— or deeper, or I’m not sure what to call it- Mixed?  Yet more meaningful too— in that way that makes me appreciate the people I am with and the place where I am moment by moment. Coffee by the fire before everyone wakes up, holding baby Henry when JJ runs at the gym.

Cutting out paper snowflakes with two or three older children, not the whole gang. Yoga with my daughters and Ella, a walk on the beach with a grandchild or two. A  hug from Chip as he leaves for work.

Ordinary love and good will, as one author wrote, once–

I do love the big crowds– but family breakfasts were kind of nuts–

It seems, looking back, that what I am holding onto are those really small moments of appreciation. Maybe that’s true for you, too?

Here is something funny. Yesterday the Aussies took a sauna and held their own polar bear dip (we missed the one on New Years at the town beach because we were at the cabin). It was low tide, so they had to run a long way from the greenhouse sauna to the beach.

and back again, just as the afternoon sun set.

The water wasn’t very deep either, so they sort of belly flopped in deep puddles in the channels here where the river meets the sea. I snapped a quick photo from the back door while little Lila and I were building a block tower by the warm fire.

Tonight we ate turkey soup (I finally boiled up the frozen bones of the Christmas bird) and corn bread. While I was serving up bowls, the announcer on KHNS read the ferry schedule. She said that the Tazlina “will supposedly” sail on Friday the 13th from Haines to Skagway and then to Juneau (about a 7-8 hour ride as opposed to the 41/2 hour direct Haines-Juneau trip.). Mateo heard that and asked what she meant. I explained that the Tazlina is relatively new, the newest ferry as ferry boats go– and has not been running for months– and she is the smallest boat in the fleet which is problematic when the winter waves and wind and pick up on Lynn Canal. She can’t make the trip in rough weather, so we don’t have high expectations. He looked concerned. I assured him it will be fine, even though I don’t really believe that. I am keeping my fingers crossed. “You could fly,” I said, “If the weather is good.” What are the odds?  There’s that, and 5 tickets to Juneau=1,000 dollars. It’s a good thing we are doing yoga tomorrow. Breathe. Just breathe, and remember to enjoy all that is here– now.