My faraway sisters visited at Christmas time this year. Four of the six of us live close by, but the other two travelled from Montana and Maryland. We get together every year on what we’ve come to call “sister retreat.” This was the first time we tried a winter trip and the weather cooperated as we took turns visiting each other’s homes. One day we sorted boxes from an ancestor’s attic; one day we did crafts which involved a sewing machine, old buttons and a frog pattern. We cooked and ate, worked on puzzles, reminisced, laughed, and laughed some more. We stopped at Mom and Dad’s grave, brushed the snow aside and resituated the evergreen wreath Merle had made to grace the site.
One day Mark and I took the visiting sisters to cut Christmas trees. We wandered around in what must surely be a conifer encroachment area and found the perfect tree, cone shaped and loaded with gray/green berries. The site is home to our family’s cattle in the fall of the year and where we spent many happy days tending the herd and picnicking as kids. It was a perfect evening above the Blackfoot River, the iconic backdrop to Mom and Dad’s lives and Mom’s love of her life, next to Dad of course. The trip turned out to be the last possible day to navigate the high country without chains.
One evening we attended the annual small town production of A Christmas Carol. Donna suggested we sit on the front row of the Virginia Theatre, the oldest operating venue of its kind in Idaho. Being up close and personal means cheering on the cast and celebrating intimately with them when Ebenezer overcomes his Scroogeness.
As we get older, time together as siblings is more cherished and poignant than ever. The twelve years separating me, the youngest, from Janene, the oldest, is a hair’s width difference now and one of the best parts of growing older, sharing a past in different timelines, but being comrades as adults. Their visit was the best Christmas gift I can think of.
|Donna helped select Seth and Leah's first Christmas tree|
|that's me and my comrade, Janene|