Last week, we had our first “real” snow. It is “skiable,” thus “real.” Those who want ski wax in their stockings are merry and bright. I do not personally cross-country ski, ice-skate, or attempt any of those sports undertaken by Kristin Lavransdatter (Kristin Lavransdatter) or Kitty (Anna Karenina). But I know ALL about them, as I married into an athletic family.
It is embarrassing to be a klutz. Suppose it is Christmas and you are snowbound at your in-laws’. Suppose your mother-in-law suggests cross-country skiing would be fun. I had never heard of cross-country skiing till that moment, but was horrified at the prospect of attempting to stand up on skis. Little did she know how (literally) painful and embarrassing my lack of balance would be.
Luckily, there was no pressure to excel in phys-ed when I was a girl. I grew up before girls’ soccer materialized as the badge of honor for yuppie moms and their offspring . Like Betsy in the Betsy-Tacy books, my best friend Carla and I had “weak ankles” to get out of ice skating, i.e., we couldn’t balance on ice. I have one deplorable memory of playing ice hockey in gym. I was hit with a hockey puck and fell down. Horrified by my bruises, my mother wrote an excuse to get me out of gym. And she confided she was afraid of water, and not allowed to graduate from college without swimming a lap across the pool. The teacher finally passed her for her courage as she desperately floated and floundered, never reaching the other side. Klutziness has passed from generation to generation…
Never mind. Earlier, as goofy 10-year-olds, my friend Carla and I were proud of our lack of athletic prowess, but lamented that it would interfere with our “plans” to marry into the Kennedy family. We pored over photos in Look and Life of “cute” Bobby Jr. and Joe Jr., who were constantly skiing, playing football, sailing, and kayaking. Fortunately, we were also in love with Christopher Jones in Wild in the Streets. We had options.
This year everything has changed for athletes and non-athletes. The fear of Covid is in us all. Well, in many of us. The ice rink is closed, but of course there is always room for cross-country skiers and walkers. Yesterday, I donned parka, scarf, hat, boots, and extra-warm gloves and took a short walk in the beautiful snow.
As I walked I felt nostalgic for Christmas vacations past. Yet I realized with surprise how little I’ve changed over the years, moving from political era to political era, from capitalist Christmas to capitalist Christmas. I am saddened by Climate Change and the resulting Covid virus, but am not surprised. What, I wonder, did the governments think would happen if they didn’t get off fossil fuels? Then as now, I also retain less serious political beliefs. I still avoid the exploitative fashion industry, and wear the same drab university-town attire I’ve worn my whole life.
Everything is the same in 2020; everything is different. I am enjoying Christmas break, though it is dull to stay home all the time to avoid the virus.
I miss the festive gatherings where one cannot avoid the ribbon candy or figgy puddings, caroling (off-key, in my case), watching the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol, which used to be on TV all the time, taking a break from our rented rooms in college to stay in a friend’s spacious apartment while she went home for vacation, dining on Chinese food on Christmas as newlyweds, and, on one occasion, traveling to my hometown (which my husband romanticizes) for Xmas vacation and eating breakfast at a steak house, the only restaurant open on the holiday.
Well, my snowy walk made me feel more Christmasy, and perhaps I shall drag up the artificial tree. Some bloggers have just reread A Christmas Carol. After all, Dickens is the father of Christmas, according to A. N. Wilson in his brilliant book, The Mystery of Charles Dickens (which would make a good gift). Well, it is time to get out one of Dickens’s Christmas books. At least there will not be any cross-country skiing in it.