And to all a good night
Sunday in the Park
Park Record columnist
This year the holidays arrived late for me, just this week to be exact. I no longer have relatives in other states needing gifts to arrive “on time.” My grandkids are teens not toddlers, so those magical visits to Santa and “The Nutcracker” have no sense of urgency.
All the adults I am related to and know with any degree of familiarity want the same thing this season: time. We want to slow it down, and maybe this year reverse it a bit, or try to extend it for someone dear who is fighting a health battle with long odds.
Last Sunday I had that day. I woke up late. I read a few sections of the New York Times. Brewed a pot of tea. The day unfolded. By noon I started my power holiday shopping at Dolly’s Bookstore. Christie was there shopping with her young son. Hank was there being a jolly ol’ elf stacking up books. Rick was carefully selecting his book and the women of Dolly’s were handling us all with aplomb. There were hugs and stories and laughter and time and space spread out to make it all seem unhurried.
The next stop: Park City Nursery. It was so bitter, bitter cold. They had a fire pit going. Abominable bundled creatures like myself were looking (quickly) at trees to last a week or two inside our living rooms. Or so I thought.
One young teenage girl was explaining patiently to her mother which tree would be right for the living room, which tree for the foyer, which for the great room and maybe a smaller one for the kitchen/dining areas. I started to laugh, you know, to be in on the joke. Then I realized she/they were serious about the multiple trees needed to decorate the home. I made my modest but evergreen purchase and hurried home to stick it in warm water and get ready to be “dressed.”
Then I bundled back up and headed out to the junction for some holiday grocery shopping. Because even though my family doesn’t want /need much in the way of gifts, they expect to eat special things in special seasons and those are less negotiable. So the candy canes and hot chocolate with real whipping cream and the all those trappings were purchased with care.
I came home to a house that smelled like Christmas, those heady evergreen and cedar aromas. And I decided to wait until the next night to dig out the lights and decorations, since I was already late in the season …
On Monday there was a kinda impromptu cul de sac tamale holiday party. So I went. The part-time neighbors were already in town from California and Nevada. The longtime neighbors were all home for the holidays and we stood together in the bright white kitchen and laughed at our good fortune to be friends… and neighbors.
It was still when I left their home (All of the other immediate neighbors were still at the party ), there wasn’t a creature stirring…so I thought. As I approached my corner lot I thought I saw movement in the snow. A cat perhaps? And then the hopping motion made me realize it was a wild Park Meadows hare. So I was smiling when I saw a mama and baby deer at my bird feeder. As I got close to the driveway they sensed me and froze in place. And because time stopped then, I don’t know how long we just stayed like that: Them statures and me in awe. But it was cold, bloody, bloody cold, and I finally broke the mood and moved toward the front door. Right on cue they bounced across the lawn and out of sight.
I eyed the forest tree in the living room and thought about decorating or at least starting on the lights but out of the corner of my eye I saw the deer had returned. I just sat down in my comfy old chair and watched until they eventually bounded off again.
The next night was our little company party that always has a fierce white elephant competition. And little toasts and the only chance all year long we are together in the evening and it isn’t a for a show we are presenting. We honestly like each other and work well together and can forget from day to day about the families everyone has that make them so much more than the humans we know from work days. There were proper English crackers, the kind you pull on both ends for a bang! and then funny paper hats and bad jokes and tinny toys to trade. Finally a question to answer: This year it was name a single gift you received as a child in this season that you remember for reasons or circumstances either good or bad. You don’t have to participate, but everyone always does. Spouses and guests can’t wait to jump in.
The next night Solstice was cold and I suspect had “a midnight clear.” I came home with leftover work to do. I miss the days of drum circles and intentions burned in the fire and the singing and communal meal. Before bed I eyed the tree again. Still naked.
The next night was dinner and a long important conversation with dear friends. And, a still undressed tree at night.
Before the solo grandchild on the actual Christmas day arrives, I will have lights and stockings and those things his parents expect to see on display. There will be a fire and music and yummy smells emitting from the kitchen. As of this writing, out of the corner of my eye, I spy chaos. Bins with lids off and teddy bears and nutcrackers eager to emerge.
The gift of time this week was really the only one I wanted. Time to slow down the rush and quiet the chatter and prepare the way. For this Christmas Sunday, in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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