Someone forgot to tell Colorado that it’s still technically fall. Two feet of snow? Eighteen degrees? Dude, it was fifty three in Louisville when I left yesterday. Get your shit together.
Presently, I’m sitting in the living room of the Hamiltons, a cup of coffee in my hands and their dog Cooper by my side (where he has insisted on staying since I arrived). Its quiet here, despite the proximity to the highway. The Hamilton’s estate is cozy and cabin-esque, walled in wood panels and filled with my brother’s collection of various flora. The roof slants at a harsh degree in the back, meaning the ceiling of the baby’s room, kitchen, and bathroom are slanted as well. It’s charming and simple, much like the Hamiltons themselves.
They want for very little and are thankful for much, a quality that I am envious of. The two met in middle school, started dating in highschool, got married, road tripped around the US in a beat up little Ford Focus, lived out of a van for a stint, then settled down in Loveland when they figured out they were having a baby. They were each others’ first everything which feels fitting. Some people either need or are involuntarily lead to exploring several partners before they settle down. Not the Hamiltons. They get things right even when they are wrong.
They march to the beat of their own modest drum: no accompaniment needed. Needless to say, they fit together effortlessly to nearly unbearable degrees. I can’t be too upset at them for not screwing up as tragically or as often as I have, but damn.
Mr. Hamilton, my dearest brother, is infuriatingly talented at virtually everything. He picked up the banjo one day in high school and could play Blackberry Blossom by the end of the week. Today, he pulled out a notebook saying, “I have been working on water color.”
Yes, they were great. Thanks for asking.
Mrs. Hamilton is what I would call a strong, silent type. She is confident yet meek. She is furiously loyal, and as far as I have seen, there is nothing that seems to set her off like her feeling like she is being taken advantage of. She loves my brother with a keen perceptiveness that should frighten him more than it does. She uses few words because she knows how to utilize them effectively.
As a pair, they drift to one another periodically for kisses. They smooch their baby with cheeky grins and coo’s. Watching them is like watching the worlds slowest ballet. They have a motion between them individually and a tether that draws them back together in a day-long series of twirls and tip-toeing. It’s fantastic to watch.
Our Thanksgiving was spent catching up and walking through Loveland’s snow laden sculpture garden. Our meals consisted of coffee cake and apple pie, and we only had our first bite of protein once the sun had already sank behind the mountains. By that time, we were already several cups deep in various, delicious beverages from Mr. Hamilton’s brewery.
We talked religion, politics, and fragile relationships: the three taboos of family gatherings. The holidays are exhausting, this one included, but this one was different. We orchestrated it to be different. We shed off the baggage of several generation’s worth of traditions and replaced it with something better than our forefather’s specters.
Maybe it’s the millennial in me that likes getting to subvert the norms of this season, but I don’t think so. I think that authenticity is simply more valuable than familial hand-me-downs. Folks like to say that the holidays are not about gifts, or turkey, or jolly old men, but have you ever actually exercised that? Have you taken off all the ornaments just to look at the tree? Have you taken time to appreciate the mantle to which the stockings are hung?
If you are able, trim the fat off of the traditions this year, because much like the archetypal holiday turkey, you might just find that there is much more substance just underneath.