Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's Christmas Time in the City!

Christmas weather is here, and we love it even when we fuss about being chilled in the night air. We have already had several dustings of snow, one which left a nice covering on the ground. I love having a white landscape but clear streets - a perfect combination! Today there were 2 snowfalls, but I missed them both because I was still dreaming in my bed. Hubby and I were up late into the night baking cookies for his staff. Later we filled Mason Jars with the Russian tea mix we had just made. Russian tea, a nice infusion of warmth on these wet, winter nights. We enjoyed our efforts and loved the fragrance permeating the house, but daylight came far too soon for his sleepy body to crawl into a morning of work. I simply turned over with my quilt!

Seattle's streets are busy during the Christmas season. It is one of the few larger American cities which has a very busy, active downtown shopping area, always filled with fast paced walkers and those who like to leisurely stroll as they browse the storefronts. It reminds me of a small Manhattan in that way. Carolers gather on street corners here and there during the season. Street musicians and street dancers entertain those passing by. The Christmas carousel turns in circles while lines gather for the next ride. We rode it in the early years before we married. Macy's star shines brightly in the skyline and guides the traffic to the heart of the shopping district. I like to roll the window down and listen to the voices as we drive past groups of people or someone singing to a crowd. Each street corner has a different kind of free entertainment. It is hard to decide where to go first. There is excitement and electricity in the air, a common joy about the season. Each time we visit the city at Christmas I remember the first Christmas we spent together in Seattle. How magical it all felt. I was surprised with new earrings before we climbed onto the carousel. Love was in the breezy air of Puget Sound that night. It still is.

We drive through the city and take in all the sites each Christmas season, drive through the University district and eat dinner on Lake Union. There are colorful trees in several of the waterside business areas where delicious seafood restaurants draw tired shoppers for rest and revitalization. We join them for alder-grilled salmon and veggies, a treat we never tire of giving ourselves. If we are lucky we will catch sight of ships and smaller boats decorated in colorful lights returning to Lake Union from their journey in the Parade of Christmas ships. These sail each night during December along Lake Washington to several eastside ports where people greet them at shoreline bonfires with free cups of Starbucks coffee. This year we are sailing in the parade; it is our first time. Choirs on the decks sing carols to those on the ships and to those who are there to greet the ships at port. We will have dinner on board during our 3.5 hour sail.

Before our Seattle night is done we will drive to Pike Place Market long closed but still glittering with colored lights above. The market rises on a hill ,
above Puget Sound and has become one of the most favored and celebrated landmarks in Seattle. I love to walk through the market and smell the breads and roasting nuts, see the beautiful colors of fruits and vegetables from all over the world, watch the vendors put on a show. There are the famous "fish men" who throw salmon and halibut like basketballs to each other before packaging them and giving them to their buyers. Such funny showmen they are!

When we return home, we sit a while by our tree, admiring its beauty. We remember aloud where many of the ornaments were purchased as we put them on the tree. A year's absence has us eager to see them again. We enjoy our quiet winter nights by these shimmering lights in the warmth of our home. With its ornaments from our travels and from other special moments, this tree tells a story of our life together. It is a good life, and we are grateful.

May love shine its soft light on us all and bring peace to this troubled world.
I wish you all a happy holiday season.