Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

now begins the holiday season

I've emerged from the wind tunnel of a number of hearings and other attention-consuming matters, after a rather busy October. I like my work, but it will be good to have the pace decelerate again.

I did not sign up for the nanowrimo process, and now I've missed my favorite part--the meet and greet thing with the other writers. I do like the idea of using November for creative things, though, and will therefore try to
do something of interest to me during the month.

The November/December holidays tend to divide people into "love the holidays" and "hate the holidays" people. I am in the "love the holidays" camp, enjoying both the holidays I celebrate. I also like the various other holidays I don't celebrate but read about, like "Days of the Dead". Yet we don't "do" the holidays in an ostentatious manner--we'll go to my father's home town for Thanksgiving and to my wife's father's city for Christmas. We'll have modest decorations around our home--tree optional--for Christmas. Because I have an end-of-the-year business trip to Los Angeles, we plan to spend New Year's there, seeing old friends, and walking in favorite public gardens and on mountain trails.

I used to love Thanksgiving Day in the Crescenta Valley in California, where we lived. We'd get up early, and drive to the Angeles National Forest, where we'd walk on the Clear Creek Trail through rain-tinged "elven forest" chapparal down to a small mountain stream, barely the size of a drink of water. Then we'd go to the Flintridge Inn for an "elegant casual" sit-down noon meal, featuring perhaps duck or salmon. In the afternoon, we'd go to Descanso Garden, where a vast camellia forest begins its bloom in November (continuing on until January in that inverted-season southern California way, in which the heat and dry of Summer substitutes for the cold of other climates). Descanso features a huge gingko tree, whose leaves always hit their most golden beauty for Thanksgiving weekend, and then fall, in a mass show of golden splendor, just thereafter. We spent just a solid handful of Thanksgivings in that part of southern California, but I treasure each one of them in my memory.

We went one New Year's to Santa Barbara, where we stayed in a charming hotel in which our room seemed a bit chilly, as the weather was in the 50s, but the room seemed lacking in adequate heating. Fortunately, they had lots of covers and quilts. I was pleased and surprised that New Year's is not a big Santa Barbara tourist time,
so that we could go to any (of the many) great restaurant(s) in the town without long lines or undue waits.We went to see the "Little Women" remake, and were virtually the only people in the theater.

Each holiday, of course, has its own flavor. One Christmas, I found myself in Wichita Falls, doing a pro bono name change for someone (and, inexplicably, agreeing to travel to distant Wichita Falls to do so). Wichita Falls proved to be just gorgeous--stark and wonderfully rural. On the drive home, I stopped in the little German/American town of Muenster. They have a famous sausage maker there, so I picked up two Summer sausages,
one to take home to each parent (due to a very long story I'd rather not weblog). Christmas that year, when I was around 30, tasted just like a rich cold Summer sausage.

When I think of holidays, I think of my friend Gene, with whom my wife and I spent a lovely New Year's Day a year or two back on a wonderful hike. It's time for he and I to get together for another lovely hike. That's a huge part of holidays, to me--connecting with oneself, with one's family if possible and with one's friends if able. Yet it all starts with quiet and solitude, and perhaps Summer sausage.
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