Always the cows to be milked, no matter the holiday. Always the feeding through snow: fences submerged into drifts, our hay-piled sleds following post-tops to stranded cattle. Always our yearly exotic fare - oysters in stew on Christmas Eve, Imported from France impressed on the can; and we swallowed them all, not sure we liked them. Then sleigh bells growing close, a face at the window in red and white, wood fires banked to make bare floors more inviting for the shiny morning of the year. Always the Douglas fir cut in the canyon, kept in water a month inside: outdoor trees weighted with snow or frosted milky, but in our double-decked windows, the fir sprouted green growth and grew an inch in the dead of winter, its scent a blend of green and spice.