Yule is usually a workday and most people don't know it's Solstice. Unlike Samhain or Beltane, Yule has always been quiet for me, and for this little family unit. Quiet as stars in the sky.
Four things happened today.
A coyote crossed the road in front of me today. He was in no danger of being hit by my car; being far enough away to see his winter coat well, but not having to do much than brake gently. I told him hello, wished him good hunting. It made me happy to see a full coat and that he looked well-fed and healthy.
I had coffee with a friend and coworker who is fighting the real fight with breast cancer. I was lucky. But I understand her, and she understands me. That little time I had with her was a gift. I hate cancer with her. I'm not a pink ribbon person, and neither is she. But I will help her in whatever way I can.
I went to Racine's after work, and Pandora (the free radio station) told me to go to Utah this weekend. As if it had speech. Specifically, it kept flipping to Joshua Tree songs. If you laugh at me, I'll smack you. Hard. Desert sky, dream beneath the desert sky...the rivers run but soon run dry...we need new dreams tonight... What that song woke up in me was a hunger for the big sky and the big quiet. Before I was a nurse, I would go hike Delicate Arch on Christmas Day. Me, and usually five to seven other people. Jews, Muslims, atheists. Those people that think they're celebrating Christ by arguing with their loved ones on the holiday? I was happy, those years, deeply happy, to celebrate a belated Yule, sitting on the rim of the canyon, looking out over the dun-colored mounds and hoodoos.
When I came home, I asked Mark if he'd be okay with me ducking out of Christmas obligations this year. He is. And I called Chase, too, because I want him to be okay delaying opening presents. (And I suspect he will be.) (Not only did he already put his present together, and is using the new gaming computer, but being a kid with four parents for the majority of his life, he's used to being less fixated on The Day Of The Holiday,) I got Chase's voicemail. I told him I want to go to Utah this weekend, and hoped he'd be fine waiting a day or two for present-unwrapping... reminded him in the voicemail that after all, we're pagan, and the holiday we're celebrating belongs to the people we love, after all. And I told him I'd take his father and him with me if I could. Cos I would. Cos my family, my little family, understands.
They know that Yule is quiet, too.
And then the fourth thing is opening a box from one of my oldest and dearest friends. It was southern cooking that she did not bake (which adds to the charm for me), but also old photos. Of me and her when we were 19, 20, and 21. One night when we dressed up before Rocky Horror Picture Show. That was from the Halloween apartment on Sheridan. A day we spent apple picking in south Chicago. Some black and white portraits of me that for some reason I did for a class, but SHE took the photos of me. I remember developing the sheet of negatives. And ornaments from our tree at the apartment on Loyola Avenue. It made me remember things I didn't know I'd forgotten, and it made me cry, and it made me remember how much I love and miss her.
I have very, very few friends left who still call me Meisha. I remember that day apple-picking. It was a spectacularly happy day.
It is the longest night tonight. And I am once again, overwhelmed with gratitude. For the coyote. For coffee with a friend who's going through a hard time. For miles of sandstone that will be mostly empty of humans this week. For my husband and stepson. For old friends who remember who you are and also don't cook.
So I'm going to Utah. I will probably call my in-laws to bid them Merry Christmas in advance. Two of the three will understand.I will miss my niece and nephew, too, which is a bummer, but I think it'll be okay. I'll call my parents on Christmas Day, and they will likely be baffled that I'm spending Christmas day without my family, but I will remind them that I've spent 45 years of doing not what they want me to do very often...so they should really stop having expectations. They'll be fine. Part of them might understand. It's weird to them that I'd be apart from Mark for Christmas. But Mark will be doing the family obligation, and I would bring him with me (and Chase too) if I could.
I think I'm just going to duck out of what other people need from me this Christmas. I'll go back to being the responsible wife and stepmom next Christmas. (Or, maybe all three of us will say the hell with it and go to Hawaii.) (It could happen.)
For the first time in ten years, I am going to spend Christmas Day alone, hiking delicate arch.
A very bright and peaceful Solstice to everyone.