Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!
I am sending you peace and kindness now, in 2023, and always.
Thank you for your many kindnesses in 2022 – for your replies to this newsletter, your comments on social media, your cards in the mail, and for the visits in real life in the UK and the USA post-lockdown. I've written a Christmas story just below my latest music news . . . .
I’ve just released remastered digital versions of my three lockdown albums in my Bandcamp shop and I’ll be mailing out actual factory-pressed CDs with artwork and booklets in the new year. If you would like to order physical CDs (hooray for tactile objects!), I will begin sending them out on January 5th. If you'd just enjoy having a listen, they're all available to hear. Thank you for ordering my bespoke handprinted versions over the last year!
Now, a story . . . .
Years ago in December, I remember being in the desert at night and being tempted from the cocoon of my camper by the cacophonous yelps of coyotes. I stood listening to their raucous party and then I looked up. There was the giant moon surrounded by an even bigger halo of diffused light. I wrapped up in all of my coats and socks, brought a quilt and a pillow from my camper, and decided to lie down in the sand to look at this special light. It was very bright, so I looked through my fingers while listening to the coyotes.
In the morning, I learned that there is a scientific explanation for that special light to do with hexagons, ice crystals, and the angle of the light. It’s called a lunar halo, moon ring, or winter halo. The science is a little fuzzy like the halo. But knowing why it happened was not so exciting as the coyotes singing me outside to see this special light.
This time of year, I look for that special light. I felt it when I sang carols with the Salvation Army here in Carnforth, Lancashire, on Sunday. That reminded me of being a child in Boston singing with our Presbyterian church in the steamy vestibules of cabbage-y apartment buildings watching the singing heads of people above us staring down from the staircases. I think of sitting with an incomprehensible knitting book – its charts like runes – with a cup of tea and a fire to warm me as I once again contemplate turning pieces of string into a scarf. I think of Mom and Dad driving me and my sister 800 miles from Boston all the way to Smith Ridge, Virginia, in time to open presents on Christmas Eve with our Mawmaws and cousins. Somehow my parents found the energy in the wintery dark to put chains on the car tires to drive those last few miles across the snowy brown sugar road that lead to our home place.
I think of the man ahead of me in the post office queue yesterday who decided that the fragile, but spirited lady behind me in line should go ahead of us both when the postman called "Next!" He could see that I was in no hurry given that the lady and I had engaged most of the line in a conversation about childhood bears and their names and where the bears were now. As I was leaving the post office, the man opened the door for me and said, "I hope you won’t mind if I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I feel like I know you after standing in that queue, especially since you know the name of my bear."
To the man in the post office queue, to Dad among the stars who encouraged me to write stories, to the heads singing and feet tapping along the railings in apartment buildings, to the coyotes who call us to look at the moon, to Mawmaw, and all my beloved family and friends, I wish you moments of special light. Look for stray mittens.