This morning I biked home to the commune after staying the night at a partner’s house, 5 miles from here. It’s a relatively new relationship (the “falling in love” of the last month that I mentioned a few posts ago) and I had been driving to see him a few times a week. This is significantly more driving than I usually do, and I was starting to feel frustrated about my car use. Yesterday was gorgeous, and he had invited me to come over for a holiday decorating party with his son’s mother’s family (more on this event later). So I found a bike (we’ve got a communal bike system here, lots of bikes laying around that anyone can ride, most of them of a fairly decent ridability) and pedaled my way off the commune, down the country roads, and up the driveway to his place (which is nearly as long as the rest of the ride!). I LOVED the journey! I felt so invigorated when I got there, and quite pleased with myself for making an intentional choice and following through on it (a few times before I had thought about biking, but it was raining, or cold, or dark…). This morning the ride was quiet and beautiful, the sun rising over Virginia fields and grass-munching cows staring at me as I rode past. Quite idyllic, quite satisfying. I entered through the “back entrance” of Twin Oaks, and rode through the community, silent and still, without seeing another person until I got right down to the courtyard (the main “hustle and bustle” of this place).

Having an off-the-farm lover makes my life feel bigger. I feel more a part of the great big world when I’m away from the commune. To be clear, he’s an ex-member of Twin Oaks and still has lots of connections here, and many of his friends are other ex-members in the area. So it’s not a complete culture jump — and there’s still something significant to developing a life beyond these 450 acres.

The holiday decorating party was a hoot! I haven’t been to something like that in a long time. My family always did low-key tree adorning, just the three of us (in two parts: me, my brother, and my dad, and then again with our mom). I have sweet memories of unwrapping individual ornaments from their tissue paper protection, telling stories of when we got them or which of us made them. And we’d always have some orchestral carols playing in the backgroud. This party, well, it was definitely more of a party. Eggnog with vodka (it’s actually pretty good), a table full of food, huge bags of holly, straw angels, and eclecticly-blinking lights on the tree. Lots of kids running around, a dart game, “extended family” conversations… I loved it. It felt so stereotypical, and at the same time so authentic. It was fun and loving and silly and important — steeped in tradition. When the decorating was done, we snuggled up on the couch with our eggnog and watched the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the Jim Carrey version (I didn’t even KNOW there was a Jim Carrey version!). I think I’ve gotten kind of Grinchy over the past couple years, being so frustrated with consumerism and unintentional culture (we do this whole parade because it’s just “what we do” in December, being so seperated from the idea of celebrating abundance as we enter into the cold winter). But yesterday, in the midst of it all, I remembered the other side of it, tradition and connections, getting joy out of making life festive. So here I am, un-grinched, for a little while at least.