Compelled by a conjugation of celestial events with personal occasions I shall muse on a more intimate level today than is habitual for me. As you no doubt noticed, Christmas was illuminated by a full moon this year, which last happened in 1977. Let’s have a look back at that Christmas Day thirty-eight years ago.
December 25th is my father’s birthday, which we always celebrated quite energetically. But not that year. That year my entire family was too distracted and discombobulated to pay any attention to either dad or the moon because this was my last day with them in Germany. The next morning my parents and I climbed in a plane to fly to Fort Worth, Texas, where I was planning to get married two days later. My parents had never before been to the USA, I had visited once. During that first visit in North America, I met my future husband.
When we got married, we had spent roughly two week in each other’s company. What could possibly go wrong? On our wedding day, getting ready in the hotel room, my dear, no-nonsense mother, bless her heart, even said to me, “You know, you don’t have to do this. He could be an ax murderer or a bigamist. Let’s just fly back home.” Amazingly though he was neither and nothing went wrong, even though our first year together was pretty darn glitchy. Not too surprising when two strong willed, solitary adults suddenly find themselves sharing a bathroom. My grandmother had wisely warned against that kind of careless behavior. It takes the mystery out of romance, she said. Tomorrow it will have been 38 years of mostly separate bathrooms and shared adventure.
Together we’ve done the occasional formal Western Affair, formal Family Event & formal Mardi Gras Ball,
but mostly we just enjoyed regular family stuff, where the unruly ruled & the informal ruled supreme.
The most defining family event, of course, was our son’s birth. All the more poignant today, when that newborn on his daddy’s chest is about to become a father himself.
And the two of us? Well, since retirement we’ve begun second careers as serious traveling fuddy-duddies, expanding our cultural horizons in sync with our waistlines.
This year I wasn’t going to miss the spectacle of the full Christmas Moon again and I took a few pictures of the moon rising over the river Charente and our ancient Arc de Germanicus. It wasn’t a clear night, but it was beautiful nevertheless. The time elapsed between the first and the last picture is just about an hour. Afterward, the moon and its reflection would no longer fit in the same frame. Besides, it was time for dinner.
The most remarkable moment of this Full-Moon-Christmas cum anniversary occurred on Christmas morning when we were sitting down to Stollen and tea to open our presents. I have to mention that it has always been our family tradition to gift-wrap everything purchased after, let’s say Halloween. Exempting perishables, in our house, you don’t have a prayer to actually use something you’ve newly acquired until Christmas, no matter what it is. On Christmas morning we diligently work our way through a mountain of packages oohing and ahhing over each item, even something as prosaic as an IKEA dish brush, as if we had never seen it before, all the while noshing quite cozily on baked goods, marzipan and pâtes des fruits with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra playing in the background. The opening of the actual presents is saved for last.
For Barry’s secret present this year, I had arranged with the Inuit Gallery in Vancouver to mail me a signed copy of Germaine Arnaktauyok‘s autobiography released earlier this year in Yellowknife, NWT, Canada. We both love her work and I thought such a signed copy of her new book would be a treasure for both of us.
Fast forward to our Christmas morning. It was my turn to open my present first. Low and behold it was Germaine Arnaktauyok’s book. I never blinked. Casually I said, go ahead, open yours. And there they were, our two identical books!
The only difference is Ms. Arnaktauyok’s signature in one of them.
Two hearts, one thought.