Inch and a half 

My brother, the Nurse, sent some pictures of a recent snow in the town we grew up in. This one was among them.

It stood out to me because I remember our Dad taking pictures just like this when we were young – a close up shot of a measuring stick in the snow. That was so Dad, the impulse to record, to catalog. It’s a strange experience to see these little reflections of my parents’ personalities in my adult brothers.

I spent last Christmas with my other brother, the Deacon, and his wife out in California. It was their first Christmas together as a married couple, the first one they’d spent in their new home, and there was much discussion around traditions. What kinds of traditions did they want to keep from each side of the family? What new traditions could be created? And although it wasn’t said overtly, there was also an implied question: What did they definitely not want to perpetuate? My sister-in-law, the Deaconess, had wanted to find some crystal or glass ornaments for the Christmas tree, something to reflect the light. So Mom dismantled the chandelier that hung in the dining room of the house we grew up in and shipped some of the pieces to the Deaconess. Out in California, we ate Christmas dinner next to a tree hung with pieces of the chandelier we had countless family dinners under when I was a child.

To me, this is the perfect metaphor for what it’s like to be a family even though we are all adults, with our own lives, in different cities. The chandelier is gone, but the pieces of it hang on the Christmas tree. The Nurse sticks a measuring stick in the snow and takes a picture. The Deacon wears our grandfather’s wedding ring. I like the way things seem to break apart and reform in new ways. I like the place I find myself in now.

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