It’s coming…can you hear it?
Okay, look, I was once described — quite accurately, mind you — as a 12-year-old with a car and a job. It doesn’t actually matter how “old” I am, a big chunk of me is still that young kid who wants nothing more than to lose himself in fantasy and dreams and other worlds. For me, as a writer, that is an inescapable part of who I am, and of why I write.
But it spills over into the real world, too.
Last night was the Gardiner Christmas Stroll. For most of the year, Gardiner, Montana is a busy gateway community, one of the main entry points into Yellowstone. But right now, after the close of the autumn season and before the start of the winter, it is just a tiny, tight-knit town. Everyone who lives and works here supports the park, and caters to the tourists, in some way, so we all share many of the same highs and lows, many of the same frustrations, the same jokes, the same reality…
Yellowtone’s winter seasons kicks off on December 15th, so the Stroll is the last chance we really have to enjoy and celebrate each other, rather than the tourists. It is a chance to chat and get to know the others, those who you won’t get much of a chance to see and talk-to — except in passing — when the buses and snowcoaches and hordes get running again.
For me, the Stroll marks also the beginning of that which I love so much: the Christmas season. That’s why I talked about being an arrested-adolescent, by the way.
Like most kids, I love Christmas. Oh, don’t get me wrong, in spite of my best efforts to be that “12-year-old with a car and a job,” Christmas looks different, and certainly feels different from when I was young, but… But, I can still feel the echoes and hints of that little kid I used to be, back when what I was matched who.
I have friends to whom Halloween is the ultimate holiday. The license to let loose their own inner-child in dark, over-the-top worlds of fantasy and nightmare is just too much to resist for them.
For others, it is the whimsy and drunken idiocy of St Patty’s Day, or Cinco de Mayo…
The patriotism and backyard traditions of July 4th…
For me, it’s the snow and the trees. It’s the lights and decorations. It’s the breathless enthusiasm and dreams of the young. It’s the sense of community and sharing with family and friends. It’s the knowledge that the deepest, darkest part of winter is genuinely a reminder of the spring to come.
And it was the Stroll that truly brought home to me that it’s coming…
George RR Martin had it wrong, by the way. His words, intended to be dark and fearful and foreboding, are nothing of the sort.
Winter is coming.
Winter — Christmas — is coming!
Oh, I’ll be out I the park watching the wolves and snowshoeing the trails. Never doubt that. I’ll also be working long hours, through frustrations and annoyances, to support the organization and the park. But…but, more than that, I’ll be who I really am: that 12-year-old kid, staring off into the distance in wonder and delight. That kid who still dreams, who still lives in a world of magic and possibilities. And the adult shell that exists around that little kid will still use those dreams to write, and to create.
I’ve written before about this time of year. This is the most recent (and Christmas-y) of those old posts. But, for those who are just as lazy and slacker-ish as I am, I’ll boil all that down to — of course — a song. My favorite Christmas carol, as a matter of fact. The Christmas carol, if you want to get right down to it, for the broken and flawed who have nothing to offer but themselves…
Err…I talked about two songs in the linked post above, but I hadn’t yet learned to link the videos inline with the text. Below are the videos of the other two Christmas carols that truly matter to me: