We've had three quiet, romantic days of snow. Before the storm began on Friday, we did last-minute errands in empty streets and empty stores, walked right up to the bank teller, and brought home burritos as the first flakes began to fall. Most of our Christmas shopping is done and we were ready to settle in and enjoy the weather. That night, I wrapped the rest of the presents with assistance from one of the cats. I also baked orange-raisin-oatmeal cookies, which are dipped in white chocolate, a terrific recipe from my mom. (I soak the raisins overnight in orange juice and a little splash of grand marnier, which gently flavors the batter, too.)
On Saturday, we took the T to the North End, for lunch at Regina's. There was no line outside: a Christmas miracle. We even had a choice of several empty booths! After an excellent pizza, we shared a thickly frosted gingerbread man from Bova's, which gave us the strength to get to Mike's Pastry, where the line is usually out the door around Christmastime. But hardly anyone was in there; we were waited on before we had time to figure out what we wanted. Which was yet more cookies: rainbows, raspberry bows, chocolate leaves, and Florentines. Christmas seems to be all about cookies this year. Then we mourned the loss of Dairy Fresh Candies, which closed in the spring after 50+ years in business. My aunt and uncle won't be getting their macadamia turtles and chocolate-dipped cherries on stems for the first time in decades.
I feel spoiled by all this tranquility, loveliness, and lack of crowds, even though my feet are always freezing and my snow boots stopped being waterproof just when I was counting on them.
This view of a church in the North End reminds me of an Italian village:
After slip-sliding down Salem Street and stopping in that fragrant bakery next to Pace's, where we nearly bought more cookies but restrained ourselves, we headed to Copley Square for Trinity's 4 o'clock free carol service. We shivered in what we considered a long line, waiting for the doors to open. I asked the woman behind us, "Is the line usually this long? Do you think we'll get seats?" Her eyebrows shot up and she pointed, "Usually, at this hour, the line stretches all the way around Copley Square and over there, by the hotel. This is nothing! We'll have good seats!" And in about 10 minutes we were sitting in the third row.
We hadn't been in Trinity for awhile (since they started charging $5) so we were content to gaze upward at the intricate details, stained glass, and soaring space as our feet thawed as people filled the seats. The music was glorious. The choir walked down the aisle holding candles as a boy soloist sang the first verse of "Once in Royal David's City." By the end of the program, as we knelt in candlelight singing "Silent Night," we were thoroughly in the Christmas mood.
The Christmas spirit is like the flu, I've found: it hits you like a ton of bricks and lasts, with varying symptoms (ranging from joyousness to the need to keep replaying Louis Armstrong's "Christmas Night in Harlem") anywhere from five days to two weeks. We decided that Trinity's carol service would become a new tradition for us. The snow fell lightly as we strolled home, past this old-fashioned tree.
As long as one can stay indoors, one of the magical things about winter is waking up to falling snow, as we have for two days in a row. Because we're fortunate — warm and cozy, with plenty of good food, books, and football games — we wouldn't mind another two days of this.