"-34. Feels like -38."
That's what my weather app readout has said all morning. I keep tapping the "refresh" arrows, hoping that those numbers will change, but they haven't. I'd almost think they were lying, but it has been confirmed by outside sources.
And I sit and debate whether or not it is worth bundling up a little man, warming up the van, and braving the cold to pick up milk, cream, and printer ink. I could have Jason get them on his way home from work, after all.
The sun is shining, at least--clear skies and no snow make for lifted spirits, even on the coldest days.
The weather has been a little nasty all week--first, it was snowy, blizzardy, icky, and now it is just clear and cold.
My poor rooster has already got clearly-defined gray tips on his comb and wattles where the skin is dying from frostbite. So far, we haven't lost any chickens, though. Soon, the eleven pullets that survived Thunder, our malamute, to make it to winter will join my one mature hen in laying eggs, too--Yay! One started this week, and although the eggs have been frozen, there have been two per day coming in.
Weeks like this, when I have been housebound by weather so much, send me into more introspective moments. I find myself missing my dad, and my brother, and Jason's mom, and those family that I wish with all my heart weren't so far away. The way my dad would tell a joke about a certain thing, or how I can talk with my mother-in-law about so much, or even just hanging out with my brother... this is the time of year when warmth is not inherent, it's created by the activities we do, and the people do them with. And I am missing that.
We just finished celebrating Hannukah, which was quite early this year. Since we started celebrating it a few years ago, I have struggled with figuring out what traditions we wanted to assimilate with the holiday. I knew it was a minor holiday, but it seems that some people really go overboard with it--blue and silver and white garlands and banners and glitz all over their house until it seems to be merely a misplaced Christmas celebration. That's why I was so glad to read this post by Melissa Ford yesterday. We celebrate this holiday because Jesus did, and there are layered meanings that carry deeper overtones to a Christian--it is the Festival of Dedication, remembering when the Macabees took back the defiled temple, cleaned it up and rededicated it. The Bible says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we re-dedicate ourselves at the same time. It is also sometimes called the Festival of Light, and Jesus is the Light of the world. Just like the Hannukiah sits in the window to shine light out in the darkness, Jesus is to shine out through us to show the Light of his love and the good news of his salvation to the world. It is a beautiful holiday that I am really beginning to enjoy.
But this year, it nearly caught me by surprise because it was so early. We lit our Hannukiah each night (for which we now simply use tealights in votive holders and a tall tapered candle in a brass candlestick for the shamash), and we went through the Hannukah story (our boys remembered none of it--one of these years it will stick) and the meaning for us, but we didn't have a single latke, or spin any dreidles, or eat chocolate gelt coins, let alone make Hanukkah cookies and give gifts to everyone we know--I almost forgot the small gifts that we give our boys on the last night in place of gelt! And I was feeling a little guilty about that, until I read Melissa's post.
We do NOT celebrate Christmas, the main reason being because the holiday is completely pagan in origin, and at a certain point in history it was "Christianized"--but putting chocolate icing on dog poop doesn't make the poop any more wholesome or appetizing. The Holy Spirit dealt with us on it about ten years ago, now, and we refocused our attention away from the glam of Christmas and onto the good news of Jesus' gift of salvation for us, celebrated by remembering his death and resurrection.
When we decided to stop, it was a relief--the commercialization, the political pressures of who gets a gift and who doesn't, the massive outlay of cash in this single month to buy things for people they don't even want or need... it was such a relief to leave it all behind. I miss the shiny decorations, just a little, but I have found that I can still decorate for winter without including a single Santa Ornament or sprig of mistletoe--and a sparkly snowflake or two doesn't look strange, either. (Not that I have done it yet, this year--that would mean braving the cold to go dig out the winter decorations from my Sea Can!)
So I was unsure about the extent to which I have seen some others assimilate those same Christmas "accessory" traditions into their celebrations of Hanukkah. Even plastering the Star of David all over their homes seems a little iffy to me--it also has roots in paganism and the occult. Besides that, we aren't Jews. I don't feel like we should pretend we are.
For now, I think we will continue to celebrate Hanukkah as we have been--except maybe with a latke or two thrown in next year. (Because latkes really are delicious!)
And although we are far away from many of those we love, we will hold them close in our hearts through this season of cold and darkness. We will also cherish the time we get to spend with those who are near. Except, not today--today is a day for staying home and staying warm by the fireplace.
Oo! -31, now! Maybe I'll brave the cold after all...
Stay warm, friends.
"-34. Feels like -38."