My Sister’s family has a small cabin just north of Albuquerque in Cuba, New Mexico. Despite the fact that I managed to piss most of my family off through some disparaging remarks about Albuquerque after our truck was vandalized there, they invited us to spend Christmas with them anyway. That is the beauty of family, no matter what kind of grief you give them, eventually they always seem to love you anyway.
Snow had fallen the day before we arrived, and although it made it difficult to reach the cabin, it was beautiful. The storm had passed through and left some bitterly cold but strikingly blue skies behind. My sister had arranged for us to stay at a friend’s place just down the road and when we arrived we found a quaint little cabin nestled in the pines and glistening in the snow. Already pretty warm from the solar potential created by the large windows and brick flooring, the woodstove soon had the cabin cooking, and we looked forward to a quiet night in front of the fire.
As we settled in for the night, I thought about Christmas, which is a somewhat confusing time for me. I appreciate in so many ways what some people call the “true meaning of Christmas”. It is a time for family, for friends, for giving and receiving, and for cherishing the gift of life and all the people we know and love. On the other hand I am appalled by the commercialization of Christmas, from the ritual of “Black Friday” to the conspicuous over consumption that it inspires. As we are on the road full time and it is much harder to send or to receive gifts, we have been largely spared from participation this year. Our Spartan lifestyle on the road has also led us to find that what we really don’t need is more “stuff”. But my family managed to shower us lightly with gifts that we could use (food), gifts that we could love, (self-made art and music), and gifts that we could laugh at, then return (the Obama Chia Pet).
Christmas with my family was a joy and a pleasure. New Years spent with just the two of us on the New Mexico desert was a joy and a pleasure as well. Sometimes it is just another day, and sometimes it is full of meaning, but it is always full of life.