A Christmas Memory

The cold weather does make it seem more like Christmas than usual. I know that those of you who live where there’s real weather are shaking your heads as I whimper and whine, but it’s a frosty 40 degrees out there (or 4 degrees, for the metrically inclined) as I shiver at my drafty desk this afternoon. California houses, besides not having basements, don’t seem to have insulation, either, or at least not adequate insulation. It’s like no-one wants to admit that it actually gets cold here in sunny California.

The chilly weather and the holiday season are definitely making me nostalgic.

I grew up near Ithaca in upstate New York, also known as Snow Central. Isn’t it funny that when you’re a kid, you’re never too hot or too cold? You can play in the snow and frolic in the icy Atlantic until your lips turn blue, and your parents have to literally drag you into the house.

Our house was on a hill, and we had five acres of land, with our own grove of pine trees. Legend had it that the land was given to a Revolutionary War soldier as payment for his services. I’m not sure if that was true, but it’s a nice story, and certainly the foundation of our house was very old indeed.

Around the first Saturday in December, Dad would get his red-handled axe from the garage, and we’d all tramp through the snow to choose our Christmas tree. I don’t remember who got to decide, but I do remember the sound of the axe ringing through the cold winter air, the thrill of the tree crashing down, sending waves of glittering snow into the air, the sharp scent of pine resin, the long, violet shadows as we dragged the tree home in triumph, as if we had somehow captured it.