The game on TV is a blow-out but we leave it on anyway, the announcers’ voices and the roaring in the stands a comforting late Sunday afternoon background.
Sunshine pours in the window behind the couch, but the warmth on my back is deceitful and the cold December air hits sharp when I step outside, looking for branches to bring in.
The ferrets are sleeping when I pull out the Christmas boxes and it doesn’t feel at all like Christmas, time slipping by too fast and me left standing, trying to catch something in this flood around me.
He’s searching for articles, dissertation work starting even as classes end, but when he speaks I realize he’s been searching muzzleloader prices and season dates instead, still thinking about that doe that got away.
There’s a whole other season in January.
We’re not putting up a Christmas tree this year because Jasmine will climb it, knocking ornaments down or falling herself or leaping from branches to the top of bookshelves, where breakables rest far out of reach. Maybe next year, when she’s older, she’ll slow down enough for a tree.
Maybe she’ll have enough scars and memories to hold her back.
But I pull the ornaments out anyway, wishing, and tuck a few between the greenery I cut from the tree in the back yard, there on the piano.
The rest are packed away again, for next year, with the lights and the bubble wrap from the Nativity scene.
Beads are missing from the camel’s colorful chain and I remember how we’d talk as children, every year, about how the Wise Men really came two years late, not to the stable; but my stable comes with a shooting star in the top and it’s silly to quibble.
Darkness falls early; the shortest day of the year comes soon. We pull the curtains closed against the cold and turn on lamps and I litter the coffee table with scraps of paper, sniping snowflakes out of paper. Alaska stretches out across the floor and yawns, her face lost in the white fluff of her winter coat. She’s beautiful this year, more so than any other, and her coat is long and soft and I want to hold her all day, just to feel it.
She doesn’t seem to mind, sleepy as always, happy to have her head scratched as long as I will scratch it.
And when Jasmine decides to scatter my snowflakes I call it a night, sweeping the scraps into a box.
We can’t start our movie until the Denver game ends because it’s madness there, 10 points in the last waning minutes, forcing overtime fumbles and we can’t see this game because they’re snowing the Packers’ blowout here but we watch on the computer, waiting for each play to appear on the screen.
And finally it comes, in the arranging of Nativity pieces and greenery and small gold-colored balls; in the snipping of paper and the smell of the Christmas candle.
It’s starting to feel, as they sing on every radio station, a lot like Christmas.