Midnight, my 19-year-old pulled free the extension cord on the Christmas lights around our barn door and came in the house, banging snow from her boots.

On my bed, the cats pricked up their ears and hurried downstairs. I followed.

Cheeks flushed with full moon sledding down Mt. Mansfield, my daughter and I talked about the history of birth control — the political is personal — ate cold clementines, and fed the cats shreds of turkey from our fingers. Over our metal-roofed house, the moon made her silent, luminescently gorgeous way through the heavens. We turned off the lights and headed upstairs to bed. I parted the curtains and touched a single fingertip to the cold glass.

In this season of a new and vulnerable family on the move, of the ineffable mysteries of angels and holy gifts, a prayer for domestic peace, in odd and unexpected moments.


Christmas Eve, Hubbard Park, Montpelier, Vermont, 2018




I’m driving around Barre, Vermont, and can’t find the high school, so I pull into a garage. I glanced at a map before I left work, and figured, what the heck, a high school can’t be that difficult to find.

Two men are in the garage, and I ask for directions. They look at each other and don’t answer. I say I’m headed to my daughter’s track meet, and do I turn left or right?

One of the men says, You better follow me. I’ll take you there. It’s not where you think it should be.

So I follow this man in his Toyota, about six minutes down the road, and then I see the bleachers first and then the high school.

He puts on his blinker and waits until I turn in, my arm raised out the window.

The mother I’m meeting MapQuested the school. The meet’s long, and we have time to begin to know each other, back and forth, in bits of conversation.

The trees are just beginning to push out green. Barre, Scary Barre, which always reminded me of the saddest parts of Manchester, New Hampshire, when I was a kid, where streets of once gracious houses were crumbling into sad and broken dreams. On our way home, my daughter and I stop at a 50s-style hamburger joint, where I buy a vanilla milkshake for my daughter from a sweetly cheerful teenage girl. The milkshake is the one of the best we’ve tasted in years.