John came home from grocery shopping (and stocking stuffer hunting) yesterday and recounted a conversation that he overheard down the canned goods aisle. He noticed a family of four, a couple with two young children. While the wife studied the shelves of condiments, the husband leisurely strolled on ahead down the aisle with his son.
The man said smiling to his son, "We are standing in a grocery store...in Colorado."
And then, "We are shopping for pickles...in Colorado."
His son smiled back up at him and said in response, "And we are watching it snow right now...in Colorado."
I know that feeling. The I-can't-believe-I'm-really-here feeling. I still feel it. I told John that I hope it never ever goes away. I am so thankful that I could burst.
December has been a blur. The snow has fallen. The ski mountain has opened. (We have been skiing!) The vacationers have returned. After two and half years it has gotten easier to identify them. Of course, there are the out-of-state license plates. There are all the selfies. There is the wide-eyed staring at the falling snow. (Oh, I understand!) You can also usually tell a visitor by the contents of his or her grocery cart. The groups of college-aged guys always have steaks and brats and beer. The young families always have chicken and burgers and peanut butter and jelly and fruit and cookies. Tourists always look much more "put together" than the locals. (Local gals don't wear make-up or jewelry when they ski, for example.) Vacationing girls look like ski bunnies in their beautiful, shiny, brand-new ski clothes. Everyone is smiling. I love it.
Apparently, the other way to spot a tourist is by the multiple ski rental stickers attached to every single piece of their ski gear. Many locals own their own skis, boots, polls, and snowboards. We are in the minority on this one. We made the decision to hold off purchasing any gear. Our kids are still growing (and at a rapid rate), and John and I are still getting our legs under us. (Well, I am anyway.) Anyway, our rental stickers tell everyone, "We're on vacation!" This doesn't really concern me, but it gets John's goat. He frequently hears, "Where are you visiting from?", "How long are you in town for?", "On vacation, huh?". He told me one day after skiing, "I think it's my stickers." Whatever. Nobody's looking at your stickers. They just assume you're a vacationer because there are so many of them here now. Well, it bothered John enough that he decided to peel the rental stickers off of his ski poles. Y'all, he hasn't been mistaken for a tourist since. Who knew?!
I have been Christmas-ing since the end of October. Cutting and crafting, stitching and sewing, knitting and purling, always with a Christmas movie or Downton Abbey on in the background. Emma has a little tabletop real live tree in the room this year. I figured on buying her a star for her treetop, but she went straight to her room and made herself a yellow star made of paper. Her way is better. We strung popcorn together and had planned on making handmade ornaments, but when she saw the simple strands of popcorn on the tree branches, she said, "It's perfect." Simple and beautiful. I learn so much from her. I am especially contemplative this year. I decorated the tree, decked the halls, and played Bing Crosby before Thanksgiving, and I never do that. This year I needed it. My heart has been so hurt over the events of the world. Perhaps with the madness out there, I needed the peace and rest of traditions. Those traditions remind me that God is in control. I do not realize all that He is doing now, but one day I will understand. (John 13:7) I sit in quietness with a cup of tea on the side table, knitting and needles in my hands, love and hope in my heart, and prayers on my lips. The prayers mingle with the plies of yarn, and my heart becomes entangled in the fabric of the sweater I am knitting.
Gifts have been wrapped. Packages have been posted. Cards have been received. Now it is time for baking and cooking, for giving and receiving, for loving and giving thanks...in Colorado.