1.Â Alert the presses: I went to Mass at 6:30 yesterday morning. Yes, this is highly unusual.Â Actually, it has never happened before in my life. Â I was there because it was kind of an important day, and I’d be aÂ pretty poor excuse for a Mary fan if I missed her feast day.Â Â I’m not at all a morning person, but the dark o’clock Mass was the only one I could manage given my work schedule (it was either go atÂ 6:30 AM or drag the kids to an evening Mass, at the meltdown hour when they are usually eating dinner or in bed … pick your poison, you know?).
But here’s the thing: it was an absolutely fabulous way to start the day.Â Â Yes, it was a drag to have to chip my car out of the block of ice that had formed during the night — and yes, I did miss the first reading — but it was lovely to be there in a darkened church, with a few other stalwarts, doing something that I normally never do at that time of day.Â I loved driving off to school with Christ inside me.Â It’s hard to have a bad morning under those circumstances.
2.Â It’s been phenomenally cold here lately. (Okay, stop laughing, all you Easterners and Midwesterners.)Â Let me just say this: we have snow on the Bay Area peaks!Â That is a very rare occurrence in this part of California.Â Driving to work on Monday morning, I followed a bend in the highway, and suddenly, TA DA! — there they were, off in the distance, mountains powdered with white.Â It is such a thrill.Â Â I had to force myself to keep my eyes on the road; all I wanted to do was drink it in.Â There’s no better way to feel Christmas-y than to see snowy mountains on a frosty morning.Â It just makes you feel like a kid again.
3.Â Speaking of which, I do remember the magical day when it snowed enough to stay on the ground. It was 1976, and I was three.Â My sister and the neighbor kids and I were utterly demented with excitement.Â Our moms bundled us up in raincoats over sweaters and we went off to frolic in the inch or so of snow on our front lawns.Â Â In my inward eye, I can see myself playing with the snow that had collected on the hood of my dad’s ’66 Mustang … funny how that little sliver of the day is so strong in my mind.Â There’s a photo in my mom’s album, showing my sister and the neighbors and I standing triumphantly by a snowman, about two feet tall.Â It has a carrot nose and is wearing a paper birthday hat fished from our toybox.
It was winter magic, California-style.Â And it still makes me happy.