Cold, rainy Christmas day here in Lafayette, Louisiana.
M marvels at our family: the same thing every year, traditions etched deep as smile lines, recipes by heart.
Year after year, so many things don't change-- Christmas Eve honey ham, a table filled with pralines and sand tarts, the coziness of ankle-deep wrapping paper, the thrill of the still-wrapped gift, hugs good night until the next day, when we all come together again, this time for the formality of Christmas dinner, all the once-a-year treats (cornbread dressing, pecan-encrusted yams) eaten off of the finest china, silver goblets and towering candles, coaxing stories from the aunts about their teenage escapades, two-timing dates and ratting each other out. So much continuity that I register even the slightest of changes: whiskey balls this year, instead of cherry pie.
M is here for the second year, first time in official family capacity, as my husband (and today, our three month anniversary). A new groove in the holiday pavement. I look across the living room and he's teaching Darth Vader's Imperial March to my younger cousin on piano, delighting my grandmother with his old 1930s standards. His effortless ivory becomes the backdrop to our familiar noise and flutter. Not a seismic shift, but the pattern is altered, the tradition is enriched.