Winter came back again as we wrapped and unwrapped Christmas. Sometimes the world transformed in white feels sparkling, magical, and filled with new activities and creative possibilities... and other times it feels like something is lost, as everything that was warm, comfortable, familiar, and accessible becomes frozen, and buried, and changed. The big boys took the little boys out sledding several afternoons, until the temperatures dropped so far below freezing that the snow on our little hill at the park turned to thick, icy sheets, and just a few minutes outside caused their hands and noses to turn bright red, and burn.
The big boys and I started to marvel that we had been three Christmases in Utah now, my third year as a single parent. And I started to appreciate, that for the first time in three years, as the last of the presents were opened, I began to feel wistful about the end of the year's Santa duties. I had spent a week of midnights and early mornings cutting, taping, wrapping, and watching The Holiday over and over, until Christmas morning I felt a kind of sadness that I would no longer need my movie friends, as I took them from the DVD player and tucked them back into the closet.
Christmas day, as the evening came, Sam, Bethany, and I trudged in our boots through the snow, buried in our warmest coats, to the movie theater nearby, for the opening of Les Miserables. It was Sam's birthday gift to Bethany, and Christmas gift to me, and will always be one of my favorite Christmas memories. Thank you, Sam.
Rob arrived in the states a few days later, and I was blessed with some time to spend with friends and food. Judith called it my gastronomical tour; Indian with Cami, Japanese with Grandma Martha, and Vietnamese with Angela. Angela introduced me to Rice King Noodle, on University in downtown Provo. I haven't had such delicious Asian food since we left China.
This was absolutely as delicious as it looks, with crispy, fresh lettuce and cucumbers, and enormous shrimp, served with the most addicting sweet and tangy peanut sauce.
Our wonderful Aunt Courtney, Uncle Joe, and the cousins came down for a visit, and surprised the kids with a sushi making lesson.
And there were other things that passed by in an icy blur as Christmas lights came down, and Rob went back to Pakistan, and the kids returned to school.
January seems different to me now. Last year was unseasonably warm and it came and went like a month in Spring, but this year could be the coldest January I have experienced since our years in Maine, and I have braced myself for that familiar January feeling akin to clinical apathy. The snow has not budged, except to become even more packed into the ground as we've made little trails, like concrete, from the steps, passed the trees, proof that we've continued to venture out and resume normal activity, in spite of what should be a natural inclination to hibernate. But every year the pain of winter passes more quickly, and I see a little more beauty in its purpose.
Mid-January brought our third annual Oscar nominations breakfast, where Sam proved that no hour of the morning is too ungodly to awake for the love of cinematography, and Olivia, first one down to the kitchen, proved once again, that she is always up for anything.