when the hustle and bustle of christmas has passed and a hush has fallen over the season, my family has a sweet tradition of going for a drive through the mountains. some years, it's up the blue ridge for an afternoon. others, it's an escape to the smokies between christmas and the new year. always, it offers a moment to pause and reflect, to pull each other closer and breathe a little deeper.
this year we cruised up to mount mitchell for the highest view east of the mighty mississippi and lunch at the early girl in asheville on our way back down. we woke up early and listened to bob dylan and neil young as we wended our way through the blue ridge. the sky spit snow and there was fog. atop the mount, the wind nipped at our faces and whipped in our hair. we laughed so hard way up on that mountain top, though now i can't remember why, and when we climbed back into the truck, not one of us could feel our fingertips.
i've always loved this ritual -- the sacred act of pausing, the togetherness it affords, the goodness of cold mountain air filling my lungs -- but there was something really special about this year. a peace, a light, a feeling of happiness abounded, and i never want to forget it.