A miracle on 44th Street . . .

I had let go.

I had decided it would be easier that way. Better to focus on the precious time together with my loved ones, rather than the ambiance of setting the stage for that time.

There simply would be no Christmas decorations this year. 

It's been a long time since the cheer and sweetness of tiny lights, stockings hung on the fireplace, little vignettes of long-ago stories set about, primitive creations by little hands hung askew on a tree nearly failed to make a appearance in my cottage in December.

But there was a time when I was too sad to deck the halls.

I lost a beloved uncle who was much like a father to me between Christmas and New Years in 1984. For years, the heavy cloak of what is called in social sciences an anniversary reaction pressed down any semblance of Christmas spirit.

And then one day, the cloak simply lifted. And I could smell the breathtaking fragrance of evergreens and scented candles, see jewel-colored splashes of glass, hear familiar refrains of tunes played only once a  year.

Oh, for years I had gone through the motions to decorate, to shop, to wrap, to go caroling, to trudge to midnight mass. But I could feel nothing, smell nothing, see nothing. Not the blissful nothingness that comes with intention. But a black hole of joylessness.

And when the cloak finally lifted of its own accord, gratefulness and astonishment rushed in. And even the long long nights of northern winters did nothing to dampen my spirit. In fact, I came to love them, to love the candlelit darkness, to love the quietude of darkness, to love the introspection of darkness, to love the knowingness of the veil thinning, and to feel it.

This year, as I've experienced what is nothing short of a dream come true, I've learned that such times can also be about trade offs. I've been a musher in training this fall, elated and exhausted. Three times a week, I head north for an hour and 15 minute drive to see my beloved dogs. I greet my sled dogs in the dark, mostly, outfit them in harnesses, hook them up to a 4-wheeler, and off we go for a training run. Miles and miles later, my sled dog team is fit and ready to run our first race. But I am not so. I've let go my normal personal training routine, run around hither and yon to meet my obligations in what seems to be a period of genuine "not enough time."

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I rise around 4:20 am, bundle up in the dark, grope my way to the bedroom door do as not to wake my husband, slip across the creaky floors so as not to wake two loved ones living in the basement, quietly open the fridge to pull out the breakfast I've prepared the night before, and slip away into the darkest-before-the-dawn morning with my sleepyhead Alaskan Husky Ginsberg in tow.

Hours later, after my sled dogs are happily exhausted from their hour-long run, are hydrated with "baited" water, have full tummies from a goulash of kibble and chicken that I've lugged their way in big ole heavy buckets, have freshly scooped and cleaned their living spaces, I head home. An hour and 30 minutes later, after I return and shower off the doggieness of the morning, I begin my work day. And sometimes my work night. Free time has taken a hike for the most part this year. And that's OK. I am truly living my dream, and how many people get to say that? In 2012, I will race with my sled dogs for the first time, across miles and miles of some of the most beautiful winter landscapes this country has to offer. It's truly astonishing.

And though my tea bag told me the other day, "When God made time, he made enough of it," and I truly believe that, I'm a novice at this dream-come-true business and I haven't figured out how the whole warp the space-time continuum phenomena yet.

Thus, no Christmas decorations, no tree this year.

Until yesterday, when I pulled up to my cottage after spending the day preparing for my racing season.

A swag of sparkling tiny lights hung from the windows of the four-season porch. That was my first clue.

I walked into a front room scented and illuminated with candles. In the living room, all of my loved ones who are living in my home stood about, beaming.

The halls were decked! Candles everywhere, Christmas tunes played, and the most beautiful tree that has ever stood in that living room twinkled with cheer.

It was a miracle.


My loved ones who scarcely have a moment of their own free time, had managed to find a way to bring the joy of holidays into the ambiance of our time together. Not only had they procured a tree, they had procured a tree that someone else had abandoned! On their way to locate a tree, they found one by a dumpster. And they miraculously located the ornaments that had been gathered and repackaged during the Great Basement Project, and placed them strategically on the delicate limbs.

It has got to be one of the most precious moments of generosity of the season I have ever witnessed.

Yes, I had prepared myself to let go of such a treasure this year. But apparently my loved ones had not.

Wishing you all the joy your heart
can possibly hold, and then some.

Thank you with all my heart, Laura, Sean, Sarah, Erik, and Julie!!!
Beloved EarthDoctorSon

Beloved RockStarSon

Beloved PreciousGrrrlChild
Beloveds JulieoftheSaffireEyes and SarahJane

Blessings to you


Hilary said…
Beautiful story, Kathleen. Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful people.
ellen abbott said…
What a wonderful gift. So much love.
Mimi said…
Kathleen, that is just a beautiful story, what a lovely Christmas pressie for you!
"Free time has taken a hike for the most part this year. And that's OK. I am truly living my dream.." I'm having the same experience at the moment, and just about managed to throw up a few decorations and cook a few things. But thaat's ok.

Love the Anuna videos, our friend's son sings with them!
A very Happy Christmas to you ~ Eddie
steven said…
wow kathleen!!! wow!!! lucky lucky blessed and gifted you!!!! i'm really excited for you to race your dogs and even more excited to read and see the stories of that!!! steven
Joanna said…
A lovely story. Your tale of finding the time to follow your dream is most inspiring. I'm picturing you tiptoeing out in the dark to achieve your goal. How lovely to come back to some beauty created by your loved ones. Happy holidays.
Suldog said…
That is one of the best damn Christmas tales I've ever read. And the tree is, indeed, beautiful. Blessed doesn't even begin to describe your situation!
Barb said…
Kathleen - what a great post! I came by to wish you all the best in 2012 - and I leave you with a smile on my face on this first day of the New Year. May all your (sled dog) dreams come true!
Janie said…
Your family is truly loving and sweet to deck the halls for you. How wonderful that you're living the sled dog racing dream!

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