Monday, December 29, 2008
Back to the Basics on Christmas
So much has happened since I've last written, everything from President George Bush handily ducking shoes to Israel going nuts on the Gaza Strip. But, through all the political BS, here I am in the cold freeze of winter. I really recommend finding a cold climate to chill in for awhile, it really calms the hot nerves of uncertainty. Suddenly, keeping the house warm, the drive cleared, the chain saw and the generator ready, and the cupboard stocked are all that matter. Sharing with the neighbors and the extended family- from rides to recipes to snowplows to saws to sewing machines- becomes the focus, and the national news may not be turned on for days, depending on how much snow is falling.
This part of Northwest Montana doesn't have enough money to keep the roads as cleared as they do in New England, so it took a bit of getting used to. The family has spent more than two thousand dollars on three vehicles worth of snow tires to get us around safely this winter. But one broken bone in the hospital, caused by sliding off the road, would far exceed that, and we haven't slid off the roads, though lots of people have.
The economy out here has been trounced. The aluminum plant is shutting down, a sand and gravel and cement company has shut down, the plywood companies have laid off, the tooling companies have laid off, the subdividing and building business has slowed to an idle. People are sober and grim, especially young teens and college students. They've never heard their parents sound so desperate. For Christmas, we decided our major presents would be donations to some of the local institutions that are now faltering. We donated dozens of turkey Christmas dinners to the Samaritan House, the homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Kalispell. The director told me, after showing me the super clean facility, that there are 400 homeless people in Flathead County, most of them young couples with children.
We had a fun happy Christmas with a Charlie Brown tree cut from our property. The family came over for present opening, a turkey dinner and an afternoon of sliding with our nine year old granddaughter. We made a rule that you had to scream all the way down the hill. We didn't drive a mile. We didn't go see new movies that were opening. We didn't move from our own little world. How relaxing. As a challenge to being laid back, I wore my PJ's all day, even under my snow suit out in the fresh cold air.
The day after Christmas, we received the e-mailed announcement from Kazakhstan that our son and his wife had a successful court day, and were granted permission to adopt the little two-year old girl they have been visiting for three weeks. Now, their four year old boy will have a little sister. And I will have a new granddaughter. I cannot wait to meet her. What a wonderful piece of holiday news! She will be arriving in this country in a few weeks, and her new Grampie and I will be traveling to Cape Cod to welcome her. She's from a land that is as cold as it is here.
It's still snowing out there. The horses love it, they gallop around knee deep in soft white stuff, and the dogs come in dragging snowballs on their fur. We have boots, mittens, and snow pants drying in rotation. We have good books to read, and modest little jobs that will pull us through. And it is beautiful beautiful beautiful.
Check out Grampie sliding, below.