Christmas 2006

image copyright Fred First

I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas.

The first drops fell after I had fetched the kindling from the back porch at 4:30 this morning. It sleeted for a while, sizzling like hot grease as it hit the metal roof of the house, but now has become a stready cold rain before first light; it promises to be a bad day for new roller skates or tricycles on Blue Ridge city sidewalks. But then, I suppose not so many children get that kind of active toy as they did when I was a kid. Rain means nothing when you unwrap your X-box on Christmas morning.

Ann and I will defer our modest gift-exchange until the kids arrive, one set later today from mid-point in their trip from St. Louis, and the other tomorrow afternoon coming up from the in-laws in far western North Carolina. Both, I’m afraid, will drive in the rain. But at least it isn’t frozen this year as it was last year this time.

And there will be Abby, almost six, to enjoy the goodies–no X-box included–and the warm puppy. And maybe Wednesday when the rain stops, we’ll take a ramble along the creek or that night, find a chance for her (and her grampa) to play with the glow-in-the-dark Frizbee. Oops. I can’t say that yet. It’s a surprise.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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