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.

Chip fell sound asleep after lunch in the middle of total chaos.

I thought you’d like that. (There’s more. Wait for it.)

First there is this, from right now up at Sarah’s house during a family spaghetti night following the Christmas parade:

I told Caroline that since she is the oldest of 12 cousins she may be asked to watch the little ones a lot ( and because she is so responsible)- but she doesn’t have to. Boundaries are important–so we agreed on a secret signal when she has had enough.  “The eyebrow” it’s a thing my sister Kathleen does, and that her mother Sarah also does, and that CC knows too– it’s a one eyebrow arch. Tonight, after dinner when it got a little wild before we started Home Alone Two I made sure to check in with her — but she was fine and laughed twirling all the little ones much to their delight. ( And no one threw up and no one got hurt.)

This morning at the pool ( I swam at 7:30, after coffee with JJ and holding baby Henry for a bit, knowing I’d be a better grandma for the workout. Chip rode his bike inside. Sarah went running up and around the Fort at sunrise.)

Anyway, at the pool, my friend Tom was lifeguarding (I have actually never seen him swim anywhere except in the pond up by our cabins, and he pretty much just floats around, but we’ve also never had any pool rescues that I know of, so I think we are fine. And he’s passed all the tests.) Before I dove in, Tom came over to my lane and we chatted. He said that the marching band was all set for the parade ( he plays the trumpet), except that one band member had been recruited for the snow dragon ( It is 27 feet long, and requires 8 people, or maybe 9 to hide under the sheet and halved plastic oil drums and dance down Main St. to the tune of The Nutcracker with a lot of fire crackers and flour “smoke” belching from its lighted head and mouth. It scares dogs and babies. ) We agreed that the band needs the bodies as much as the dragon. “I’m sure they’ll find someone else,” I said, and told him that I had volunteered to help put the dragon costume on everyone.  (It’s a process.)

After that, the day ran wild with kids charging in and out in the bitter, but beautiful cold.”Shut the door!” “Put a coat on!”  I spent breakfast and lunch as a short order cook, basically, because of the sleep/ travel adjustments and happily so. Then I just moved out of the way. JJ thought we needed a bigger coffee pot and found one above the garage, but no one could the find the right filters. The Aussie boys loved sledding on the icy slope to the beach but kept forgetting to put on  boots and coats. The furnace quit “There’s no hot water and the third floor is a tad chilly,”  but Chip called Bob the plumber and he came even though it was Saturday and repaired it. (It needed a new pump.) The woodstove does most of the heating, but the babies and the dogs like the warm radiators upstairs. The kids’s friend Teslyn came by and everyone went for another brisk walk on the beach.

I sent Chip off to the library at noon with a batch of cookies I didn’t even bake (my friend Beth made them for me) for the Friends of the Library Cookies by the Pound Sale ( it was a big success, we raised over 1,000 dollars!) I took the Aussie boys to Caroline’s basketball game while their parents and toddler sister tried to nap. (The time change is dramatic– they are a full day younger here than they were back home in Margaret River, WA. and no one is sleeping well yet.)

The kids all left at 3 for stories with Mrs. Claus at the library followed by the parade at 4. Chip walked the dogs and I picked the house up like a wild woman for a half-hour, and headed over to the school to put the snow dragon together.  I love that ridiculous, tinsel-fringed dragon.  Traditions require effort, and I am all about doing whatever it takes to maintain this whacky and wonderful Haines one. I really, really wanted my grandchildren to see our dragon weave and roar and blow flour smoke down Main St. on a dark December afternoon.  I don’t think it would be Christmas in Haines without the dragon, and after 32 years working with it, I’m an expert. I quit actually being inside of the dragon a few years ago– It’s very difficult. The shell is heavy and you can’t see anything. Dragoneering is a young person’s game. But of course I agreed to stage it in the school cafeteria and coach the newest crew.

Then, at 3:55 ( the parade begins at 4, remember) Annette, who is in charge and has been forever, since we were both young mothers — said ” Uh oh. We are short one person.”

I texted the kids: “Plan B, I will see you after the parade up at Sarah’s.”

No one was surprised.

“I knew you’d be in the dragon as soon as Annette called and asked you to help,” Chip said. “Didn’t you?”