I've split logs from an oak tree that blew over during Hurricane Sandy and cut thin flakes from an old cedar tree that fell at the edge of our pasture. The cedar's oils pop and crackle in the fire, so I only use small pieces at a time. The room is filled with the scents of the balsam fir Christmas tree, the smoky sweetness of burning oak/cedar, and an apple crisp made from the orchard next door.
The animals are tucked in for the evening. The chickens and guinea fowl are roosting in the rafters of their coop, near the warming panels we installed for sub-freezing nights like tonight.
The dogs are curled up together in the hayloft after a day of running and rolling in the sunny pasture.
The alpacas and llama are sitting under the ice-ringed moon with their legs tucked under their bodies. They only sleep in the barn on windy or rainy nights.
The forest is still and the only sounds that echo through the rolling hills are twigs snapped by wandering deer, the quiet hum of wild turkeys in the pine trees above the paddocks, and the whistle of a distant train.
To me, Christmas is a state of mind - a sense that for a day or two the anxieties and conflicts of the world can be set aside so families can revel in the positive aspects of the past year and the anticipation of good things to come.
2012 was a turbulent time for us with family health issues, a pace of healthcare IT projects that exceeded any previous year, and many transitions as we sold our home/my father in law's home, closed Kathy's studio/gallery, and consolidated everything to Unity farm.
As we approach the end of the year, there are undone tasks and unresolved challenges. Some define anxiety as a feeling of fear and concern about the unknown. On Christmas Eve, I know that for every future setback there will be a process to make it better. There's no reason to worry today about what might or might not be.
Especially today I'm willing to put aside every negative memory or emotion and focus on the overall path for 2012 which has been overwhelmingly positive.
My wife is cancer free and enjoying every day in her new role as farmer's wife (no blind mice or carving knives involved)
My daughter has a new sense of independence after becoming a confident driver and taking on responsibility for all aspects of her personal life. Mom and Dad are always available to provide assistance and advice, but we're a safety net not a guiding force.
My parents are steadily improving after a year of several health issues. They openly discuss all the possibilities for the future and the stepwise path to ensure they have the highest quality of life possible.
My colleagues in all my IT worlds - international, Federal, State, and BIDMC continue to a make a difference every day by improving the quality, safety, and efficiency of patient care.
My own health, mental and physical, is the best it has ever been and I feel a great sense of well being.
May you all have a holiday season with the nurturing joy and love of the season, taking in the sights, smells, and emotions that remind us of all of the good things this world has to offer.