White Christmases and Sing Alongs

What a special Christmas this turned out to be. I slept in a little bit longer than I thought I would, and spent a little time warming up by the fire. I examined the contents of my stocking (a harp seal flash drive, a fancy highlighter pen, a pocket journal and other goodies) and then woke up my siblings. While I sat by the fireplace, I watched the snow drift down in gentle rhythms that coated the house’s railings with long strips of white. By the time we finished our egg casserole, the snow was up to two or more inches. One of my sisters was ecstatic that it was snowing; it was her wish to wake up to a White Christmas.

It was the first white Christmas at home in years.

The presents exchange this morning was fun, especially watching how excited my siblings got over SpongeBob Squarepants and long-sleeved shirts. Me, I was taking it all in, and didn’t expect to receive a whole load of presents like I did. I wasn’t disappointed or anything, but I knew that I’d have to figure out where to put the stuff. Later I managed to stuff all but one of my presents in my duffel bag, as I plan to take them back to my apartment when break is over. In fact, we’re leaving Etna tomorrow, so I have to have everything ready to go. What I learned about traveling is that it is always good to pack light, so that there are less things to forget and a little bit of room for the extra.

After the gift exchange, my brother and I lay passed out on the couch by the fire for awhile. Then we decided to go visit my best friend who lives five minutes away from us in Etna. Driving in the snow was something else–it had been awhile since I had last driven in snow that was a little slick and still a little crunchy. It took a couple tries to back up successfully into our U-shaped driveway, but I did it. Driving at about 35 mph, we made it over to Katie’s in about 15 minutes. I didn’t want to get in a wreck on Christmas, so it was well worth it to drive safely.

We hung out with Katie for the next three hours. It was like we had never been separated since the summer! That’s the thing about having a best friend: they’ll still care about you even if you don’t stay in touch for awhile. They’ll still remember the times you had together. They just get you.

Leaving Katie’s house, I was sad that I wouldn’t see her until next summer at the very least, but I felt reassured at the same time that we could still be close. College is difficult at times because I live about 12 hours from Etna and so I can’t just go home and see people that I want to see. Plus, people get busy and everyone has their own set of things to do, so I guess one has to work with what they have. We don’t always get what we want.

The Chocolate Dipping Party

Every year my uncle from Etna throws a fabulous get together for his friends and anyone else interested in chocolate to celebrate before Christmas by dipping delectable candy centers in milk and dark chocolate. They get to take a box of chocolates home with them. These parties are immensely successful, and this year was the first year that everyone was able to enjoy space to mingle and breathe in the remodeled kitchen.

The other night at the party, I sang with my sister and uncle, directed by my voice teacher who taught me from the summer of junior year onward. We planned to sing a wide repertoire of songs including Christmas carols, letting the audience join in with us. At the beginning of our recital together, I remember my German exchange sister singing the first verse of ‘Silent Night’ in German.

“Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht”

I started feeling uncomfortable. Her voice was strong and sweet, ready to pour out to the audience. I figured out why I was so uncomfortable: in the dim light, I made out my mother’s face and saw a tiny tear and her hand wiping it away. Then it hit me. I was going to cry, too.

“Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar”

I felt emotional but I couldn’t cry. My attention was locked on my sister as I stood by the piano. I couldn’t let myself cry, because the recital had just begun. I can be a crybaby sometimes, given the situation. Life is cruel sometimes.

“Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!”

She ended gracefully, her first song in a foreign tongue of many that evening. Everyone had been holding their breath, and finally the tension released. The clapping filled the room as I stood there. I couldn’t look at her, because I knew I’d start crying. Some moments are so sacred that you nearly forget how to handle yourself.

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