December 24, 2002
This your first day of holiday, and to mark it you get up early, and walk down for breakfast to Honey’s in the Cove. There are mysterious mists hanging in the air, and the trees are bare of leaves, and above it all you sense a blue sky, and the sun hovering like a benediction over you. A heavy frost has coated all the windshields and with fingernails you scratch anonymous greetings for those who are still abed: five-pointed stars, and Merry Christmas!, and hearts containing your own paired initials.
You find the Cove fog-shrouded, the farther shore obscured. The tide is as high as you’ve ever seen it: the surface still and polished, the depths of it shading from pale emerald down to black, and the boats bump gently along the dock.
The café is nearly empty when you arrive but soon every table is encircled with sweatered children and their vested parents, and small dogs steaming at the ends of leashes. The counters are stacked high with fresh baking: baskets full of “Roly Poly” doughnuts, mounds of White Chocolate & Raspberry Muffins, and Peach & Blueberry Scones tumbled in a fragrant heap.
In one of the glass-fronted cases a toy train has been set up, and it circles through a tiny Christmas landscape. The children kneel reverently on the floor before it with their palms and noses pressed against the glass. And the train goes endlessly past them, past the tiny snow-covered houses, past the reindeer and the elves.
And they are rapt, their eyes locked on to it, following that train intently through that tiny world. Imagining the families snug inside those tiny houses, the tiny Christmas trees, the tiny presents. It’s all too exciting for the smallest of them, and they pound at the glass in their fervor, and shout out joyfully and their parents get up apologetically from their mugs of coffee, and reach in to airlift the offenders out. But the bright, bright eyes never lose their grip upon that Christmas vision, just out of reach behind the pane of glass.
And you want that for them always: that intensity, that joy. The faint scent of baking always in the air, and the mists outside, and the emerald sea, and the sun: the winter sun slowly warming everything.
And Christmas coming: the dream of Christmas coming soon.