This year we opted for a White Christmas, and since forecasters were not predicting snow to come to us, we went to it. This was our way of attempting to start a new holiday tradition, a necessity since we don’t have many family members left and we don’t see the ones who are.
We hadn’t been cross-country skiing for five years, which meant the outing seemed daunting. We carried a lot of unanswerable questions with us to Snoqualmie Pass. Which ski area should we go to, the one most likely to have a groomed trail and a howling, icy wind, or the one hidden in the trees where the wind couldn’t reach, but where we would have to blaze our own trails? Would we manage to stay upright on our skis? How would Ann’s miserable shoulders and Greg’s trigger finger fare? (The latter is a problem “tendon that causes a finger to snap straight when the hand is extended.”)
Before long, all our questions were answered. When we got to the mountain pass we opted for a likely groomed trail, a choice that threw us immediately into a parking lot filled with outdoor enthusiasts, including many children who came prepared to slide down tiny hills in their molded plastic “snow saucers,” sleds and snow shovels, and shriek. We headed away from the sledding area to the freshly-groomed, tree-lined trail on the west side of stump-filled Lake Keechelus, which was unusually calm. (Apropos of nothing, watch a short video of kayaking around this lake on a summer’s day; it’s a forest graveyard).
The temperature was perfect, the snow fast, and we saw patches of sun on both sides of the lake. As always, the other skiers were friendly and courteous. The forest was still. Though we flailed some, we didn’t fall. It was a perfect way to remove ourselves from shopping malls, cooking, baking, and wrapping presents and plunk ourselves down into a tranquil setting.
When we awoke this morning, we realized that we hadn’t asked ourselves one question ahead of time, namely, would we be able to walk on Christmas Day? The answer is: not without feeling every muscle in our backs and legs. Nonetheless, we’re ready to continue this tradition as long as there’s snow in December and we can still move. Until the muscle soreness subsides, I will be content to lie on the sofa, knowing the Costco-size can of Starbucks cocoa mix is nearby, the snoring cat is on top of the warm blanket covering me, and one of the many movies we’ve recorded over the year is one click of the remote away.
And to you, whether you’re celebrating Christmas in a traditional or non-traditional way, celebrating another holiday or celebrating no holidays and just taking it easy, this is a wish that you, too, will spend the day feeling warm and content.