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A Fitting Goodbye to Christmas Past

A Fitting Goodbye to Christmas Past
looking glass
looking glass
View from my front porch: chilly on the outside, toasty on the inside

A week of celebrating, and a drizzly, slate-gray morning have led me to reflect on some of the small moments of this big season. Yep, some fond memories and a cuppa joe are warming my winter chills this morning. Chastened by the benefits of age and expectation, I tend to enjoy Christmas in a less-is-more fashion. Gone are the days of keeping a ledger, a not-so-subliminal list of activities, events, and must-do’s that add up to having a proper Christmas. I’ve come to realize that seeing the show, heading to the mall, picking the perfect tree, and buying expensive gifts, a Christmas does not make, nor provide meaning to. I suspect we all know that, but when the Christmas train leaves the station in October, I have to make a conscious effort to stay off the tracks. The gifts of the season (and my life, for that matter) are the people in it.

Changing scene
Last year, when snow came to Tall Clover

The day after Christmas I was invited to an open house by friends who I would have to say always have an open house in my mind. I saw some old friends, made some new ones, and stumbled into few conversations where my mind and mouth were woefully out of concert; and this without the help of some boozy eggnog. Wood stoves and wool sweaters get the best of me, so I needed to cool down outside on the covered porch. A wicker chair awaited my arrival. I just had to maneuver through the minefield of shoes, clogs, boots, Birkenstocks, and Bogs blanketing the front stoop. One false step, and I would crush someone’s favorite footwear, and no doubt trip the light fantastic. Secure in the chair and a brisk embrace, and with no sprained ankles to speak of, I eased back and looked up at the rafters and strings of Christmas lights. Water drops on my glasses, made for quite a show.

Christmas Amaryllis putting on quite a show.
Last year’s “Christmas Amaryllis” putting on quite a show well after the holiday.

Perched on a porch between indoors and out, I could hear muffled laughter and spirited conversations behind the changing kaleidoscope of steamy windows.  As a self-proclaimed human furnace, I find sanctuary on porches, where bouts of wind and rain say “howdy-do” and “simmer down” in one bracing kiss. A quintessential Pacific Northwest drizzle held an impromptu concert on the rhodie leaves and rain chain.  It really can be the sweetest sounding rain you’ve ever heard. There’s no urgency in either its delivery or its dissipation. A few deep inhales and exhales, and the wind ushered away my sighted breath into the night. Christmas, like its recent full moon, was waning; and closure was in the house and on the porch. I found comfort in the spirited voices behind me, beauty in the abundance before me, and calm in knowing the next few days would be willingly served by peace and quiet.  Happy New Year, my friends. May we all find the light that fuels our lives.

When the electricity goes out, the candles stay on.

Note: These photos were taken earlier, as I can’t find my camera. I know it’s around here somewhere; perhaps I’m in need of a New Year’s resolution about putting things away…nah, that’s crazy talk. Again, well wishes for the coming year!


  1. New Year’s Eve invariably finds me tight-chested, stinging-nosed, and finally weepy, with no discernible cause…but, optimism generally returns with the light, does it not? I hope you can shed the sorrows of the past year and that 2016 will bring brighter times. All good wishes to you, and may your mailbox be filling up with seed catalogs even now!

  2. Here’s to a fantastic 2016 Tom. Love your writing and am having a laugh at the Birkenstock ads that accompany the post. Didn’t we call those ‘birth control’ in the 80’s?

  3. Please, if you are able, find the person(s) who helped to uncover your gift of writing, and thank them. Your words always put me next to you, embracing the experience of you! Love you dear friend, glad for the hug this year! Here’s to a joyful 2016!♡

  4. Always beautifully written ….. Puts a smile on my face and always makes me miss you so much more. Happy New Year Tom ! Hoping the new year is good to all of us xoxoxo

  5. Happy New Year Tom!. As usual, we will have some Asti Spumante here at home and to bed about 9. Just can’t stay awake to actually see the New Year.

  6. V
    Happy New Year. May it be full of love, joy, happiness, laughter and gratitude. Lots of licks and treats from the furry gang. ox

  7. Happy New Year, Tom!
    Always a little start of happiness to see your blog notice in my inbox, and today no exception. I felt a little sadness in your writing today, but that’s OK, you had some sadness last year. I’m sitting, weighed down by various Terriers because the house hasn’t heated up yet, and considering both the unusual cold here in Sonoma County this morning and, also, the Black-eyed Peas I’ll do for New Year’s Day Good Luck Feasting. Here’s to you having a very good 2016, finding your camera, and continuing to share your life with us. We are the lucky ones!

  8. Just adore you, Tom Conway. Your presence is a joy and a blessing. May your year be filled with wonder, and joy and more time on the porch! Always. d

  9. I wish I knew you better Tom. I like what you write. I like your photo’s of flowers and food.
    Thank you ,

  10. Happy New Year Tom. Thank you for all the stories, reflections and photos. Tall Clover Farm Blog should be required reading in the Vashon HS English curriculum – great story telling, strong narrative voice, emotionally true, fully descriptive… Anyway thanks again; there’s always a chair on our porch for you!
    Happy New Year.

  11. Happy New Year to you too Tom! Think I would be joining you on that porch…as much as I love wood stoves and big sweaters too, they do get the best of me! All the best to you in 2016, 🙂

  12. I am so touched, moved and honored by all of your caring, kind, supportive comments. I didn’t think that when I started to write about my days here at Tall Clover Farm, that I would meet so many wonderful and generous souls, some near, some worlds away. For this I am so grateful. Again, know that I relished every word here, and I look forward to 2016, when I hopefully will learn a few things, grow some good food, share farm stories, and try recipes worthy of your time and good nature. Happy New Year Friends!

  13. Well that was just beautiful! I don’t know you, but your blog writings resonate. Thank you for taking the time to write.


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