The presents are wrapped at last. I'm getting things pulled together and packed. And then it will be off on the long drive to the city, to visit my mom and my brother for Christmas and several days of vacation.
More than once as I've been getting ready, I find myself pausing and gazing off into the middle distance, and something indefinable descends upon my heart, like the pale grey light of winter. This will be our first Christmas without my father. He passed away this summer. Suddenly, quietly, in his sleep. He was up there in years, but still in good health, and it was completely unexpected.
I find I'm approaching Christmas with decidedly mixed feelings this year.