Come late December the airports are filled with faux garlands, cheery TSA agents, and home-hungry travelers. Gate 43 is a Christmas Party; explorers take a perch with their carry-ons in tow, comparing departure times and layovers with strangers as they sip from bottles of Blue Moon or glasses of Chianti. The women next to me orders a margarita, an order of fries, and then another margarita. She leaves for North Carolina humming jingle bells. You go girl!
The slumber of a west coast winter is bright and loud. Christmas parties bubble on every street while children snatch up the cookies from an unsupervised dessert table. The punch says "adults only" and laughter flows like the pour of a new bottle. A drafty desert party. When the sun goes down, we are reminded that winter is only a tablespoon away.
And 5 hours later, Virginia welcomes me with chilly arms, as if Frosty lifted me by the armpits and began twirling my body in big snowflake shapes. The earth is brown and forest green, and steam swirls from the coffee and our breath. We get to work; the oven clicks with enthusiasm as dinner bubbles away. Outdoor evergreens glitter in midday sunlight, and the Steelers score a touchdown.
In the next few mornings, cinnamon buns will be packed and distributed among loved ones; an edible package wafting with cream and nutmeg. I am simultaneously happy and longing and lucky and singing "Blue Christmas" in the shower. I am inhaling pine-scented steam and the smell of bacon fat. Santa's presence is all around, and not pervy New Girl Santa, but the one that totally comes down this very chimney to drop off a bag of shiny stuff and nom on some gingerbread. It's almost CHRISTMAS!!!!