Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On Christmas Eve

I've been so inspired by so many sites this Christmas. Money has been particularly tight for us this December, as our beautiful cat, Camino, came home with a badly broken leg early in the month. Her vet treatments were covered by the money I'd set aside for Christmas. Then our clothes dryer broke. While I found inspiration in the hand-mades I saw online, I walk the line between thrifty and incredibly busy (the last week of school contained two snow days, two Christmas concerts, Mass, Advent celebrations, a pizza lunch, sugar-cookie get the idea); there is only so much time. I was staying up late in the evenings to finish the work-intensive handmades I was creating for my children, burning the candle at both ends.

The day before the last day of school (December 23), we brought Camino in to have her splint changed before the holidays; the news wasn't good. Her bones were not knitting, and were once again poking through the skin. Amputation, to be honest, was way out of our budget, and held no guarantees. Our wonderful vet felt that in spite of the excellent care she'd received, it would be most humane to put her down. Many tears were shed as we made this difficult decision, and said goodbye to an otherwise perfectly healthy young cat.

I'm sure I'm not alone; it seemed that, as the mama of the house, I'd worked my ass off for six weeks making sure Christmas would be bright for my children, my students, my husband, our families...baking, decorating, singing, reading Christmas stories, anticipating, knitting, wrapping, smiling at those moments when I got a good deal or found the perfect gift.

Then, by the time the day came, I felt spread so thin that I could hardly summon the strength to actually enjoy it all! On Christmas Eve, in spite of the beauty around me and my many blessings, I felt sad, stressed, worried, frazzled, and frustrated that I was feeling that way after so much work and preparation!

So, I put on my rubber boots and took a quiet, solo stroll just to the end of our lane way on Christmas Eve.
I looked at our house from the end of the lane. The clutter and mess and unpainted rooms are unseen from this perspective. The children arguing, the parents worrying, the animals demanding: unheard.

All I feel is home.
The rooster was beginning to crow in his cozy harem coop; a heat lamp keeps their water from freezing, and I pictured them roosting together, feathers fluffed to keep in the heat.

 I smile at the burdock (not sure if I've ever smiled at a burdock before), because of the little hats it wears. My grandmother always wore a tam at a jaunty angle, and I'm reminded of her once again.
 I wonder if bangs are in this year; straight but jagged seems to be the style.
 The icy rain that fell a few days ago didn't miss the opportunity to cling to every little strand of chicken wire; I love this icy beehive.
 Even the barbed wire was softened by the appearance of ice; one twang of the fence and the ice would tinkle to the ground.
The smokehouse, with a tiny decorative sled on the door, sits as if in wait for the next photo session. It, of all our buildings, is my favourite subject in all seasons. It calls to mind magical stories of small beings who eat hot buttered toast and tea for dinner, and invite any passersby in to sit by the fire for awhile.
As I step up to the front door, I turn once more to the lightening sky. A deep breath before I enter into the busyness of a Christmas-Eve-Home, a renewed feeling of well-being; sometimes all a mama needs for peace of mind in a hectic time is just her feet taking her out of the house and down the lane way for a few quiet moments.


  1. Beautiful pictures, you have a lovely home.
    If it's any consolation I felt very frazzled during this christmas also! as every year!
    Sorry to hear about your cat.

  2. This is a provocative post. I am so, so sorry about the loss of Camino. I have never experienced the loss of a pet. We have a retriever, and I know when the time comes it will be very difficult. The photos of your homestead are beautiful and I love the photo of the ice on the chicken wire one of my favourites. Sometimes a brisk walk alone does really help to clear one's head.

  3. I am so sorry for the loss of your Camino. So unexpected. She was so sweet and incredibly beautiful. I've never seen another cat like her.

    Gorgeous photos! I can see why Winter grounded you. And I am certain that your farm Tomten lives in that smokehouse.

  4. Stephanie, I love this post. You are so blessed to have this much beauty surrounding you--if I lived in your house, I would be stepping out for a breather now and then, too.

    Sometimes when my own small townhouse seems too noisy and crazy and hot, I go for a wee walk...but it's not the same here--our small subdivision is sandwiched in between a very busy road, another busy road, a shopping plaza, and a Ford manufacturing plant...not the best scenery or smells, either. We are really hoping to move this year, though.

    I loved your quip about bangs. Those icicles do look like bangs! Actually, I'm thinking right now of cutting bangs, which I have not had since approximately's a little bit scary. :)

    I'm very sorry to hear of your poor sweet kitty. May she rest in peace.

  5. Oh, I also wanted to say I am jealous of your snow and ice. Down here in Windsor we have had only wet snow and rain for the longest time. It's so muddy outside, the kids can't go outside without coming back in covered in mud. Yuck.

  6. I am SOO jealous of your house. It looks like something off a Christmas Card.

  7. Yes, yes, yes.
    And wow, those pictures are so beautiful.
    Hope your week after is going well.

  8. These photos are breath taking. I would love a collection of these blown up and framed to be hung in my kitchen year round. They are gorgeous.....yep.....I definitely want copies of these....I walked outside today in the wind and the drifting snow and I thought to myself that I really do love Canadian winters. And snow. Great post. I know many mothers can relate to the nutiness of Christmas all in an attempt to create memories for the children. They never have to know how crazy it was to make their memories! xo

  9. I so hear you! I've had many of these moments over the last few days. A sunrise while collecting wood, a few moments of serenity while feeding the chickens, a quick walk with the dogs while daddy was on snow duty. It really is the tonic for a busy mama. I hope your Christmas has been a merry one and that the new year brings much peace and prosperity.

  10. So sorry to hear that you had to put down Camino, especially at Christmas. That must have been heartbreaking for everyone.

    Gorgeous photos. How I miss Silver Lake.

  11. What beautiful scenes.Im from the dry red hot interior of Australia and to see these images is breathtaking,I hope Christams was lovely for you,yes we Mums are always spread thin at certain times but its because we are Mums.Best

  12. so very sorry to hear of the loss of your cat- nature seems very cruel at times.
    the farm looks lovely wrapped and resting, take some time to do likewise for yourself.


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