Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Old Traditions, New Customs ...

I have thought lately of all the traditions the various “families” I have been fortunate to have over the years follow for Christmas … I have thought about how I want to have a piece of every one of them, and yet make my own. I think this year was a good start for this.

Aa. wanted a log cabin for Christmas. I wanted snow. I know – always hardest to please! And as luck, or fate, or just chance would have it, we got both. We rented a log cabin on the grounds of Autumn Creek Vineyards, in Mayodan, NC, and about a week before Christmas, we had lots of snow. After that, we had lots of cold-cold days that ensured we still had snow on the ground when we got there.

Our faerie - like living room at the cabin.

We didn’t go crazy with gifts. Just some things that we both knew the other liked, that represented us, or that we needed. We went away on December 23rd, and returned on Christmas Day. I cooked a couple of dishes, and I had the traditional Romanian cold cuts and ham plate with bread all made up, we took drinks and of course we bought wine at the place we stayed. We had the cabin all to ourselves, complete with a fire, and a Christmas tree. We had dinner out the first night there, but we had all the breakfasts in.

For the first time in a long time for me, we hiked in the snow, in the nearby Hanging Rock Park on Christmas Eve. The hike was beautiful! A perfect, cloudless day, with squeaking snow under our feet and nothing but the sound of wind in the swishy, paper-like ruffling of dry trees.

The woods had a Robert Frost - like majestic quality about them: their frozen beauty and serene silence made our souls as pure as the snow and as fresh as the cold that enveloped us. We took our time on the icy trails, played with the cameras, watched for weird paw or foot prints everywhere, and admired the beauty of the simple nature gone quiet for the winter. The usually vibrant rhododendron was sad looking, but stoic, nonetheless. The snow was solid mercury, under the strong light of the sun – unbothered by clouds.

We climbed several of these steep, treacherous stairs, full of packed snow and ice.

We went home with red cheeks and chapped lips and we turned on the fire. Aah, the wonders of advanced technology: we can “build” a fire no longer. I guess we cannot have everything.

I prepared the Christmas dinner, which is another Romanian tradition: we typically eat that on Christmas Eve. We had warm and fresh dishes that complemented the cold endured during our hike that day well. Then, we opened presents and had some more sweet wine. If you do like sweet wine, the Autumn Creek Mayo River White Muscadine is to die for! And since we’re both word people, we also played Scrabble.

The cabin was wonderful, too! Everything in there was so nicely done! Very tasteful, and not “loud” , nor cheesy– just nature shades of brown, green and gold and natural textures of wood (mainly), ceramics and leather. I loved how they use bark to decorate the inside roof, the crown molding and the base boards. It was like being in the tree house I have always wanted but never had.

The master shower was luxurious and complicated – not something you’d think you’d find at a rustic retreat, but somehow it fit the rest of the high end and classy fixtures, as well. The smell of the wood logs took over our sinuses as we walked into the simple mud room. That was exactly what I lived for all year: that smell!

I used to open the train car’s windows when I went to the mountains as a kid when I knew we were getting closer, just to smell the fresh scent of lumber. That’s how I knew we had but mere miles to go! That smells still remains imprinted in my brain as the most soothing scent of home.

The next day, on Christmas, we had breakfast and headed back home in the rain. And I must say: it was perfect timing, too. Great to wake up with the soothing sound of the rain on the metal roof while you’re enveloped in the warmth of wood and heavy comforters, and know that it’s your last day, so you’re not missing much, since you would not be able to play outside anyway.

It was a short distance from Greensboro (less than an hour), but miles and years away from its crazy pace of every day chores and engagements! It was a warm getaway for the two of us, a priceless retreat for our new love, and new family, and a beautiful spot to start our new tradition.

No matter where our real or symbolic log cabin will be every Christmas from now on, whether in our own home, or rented, whether with other friends or family, we will try to always have our table bountiful and glasses filled, our hearts open and to be surrounded by peace, quiet, love and hopefully, if we’re good that year, snow, too.

Thank you for a wonderful Christmas, honey! The first one of innumerable ones to come, I hope!

I love you …

Our first Christmas together. Please click on the picture
to view all the shots from this trip.

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