Overnight, we saw the first appearance of that form of precipitation peculiar to the Washington winter, the ice bead. I, for one, would much prefer it to snow. Even so, what this means is that snow days could be right around the corner. If you didn't realize this when you were a child rejoicing that school was cancelled, I can assure you that your teachers were even more elated than you. What is that tied to the roof of the Ionarts conveyance? Yes, I drove home this afternoon with a 6-foot-tall blue spruce bound to my roof with twine. For the first time in his life thus far, Mini-Critic understands what Christmas is and insisted that we had to have a tree, preferably as soon as possible. The smell of coniferous sap in one's living room is always like the taste of the madeleine to Proust's narrator, recalling many scenes of Christmas joy. Before I had children of my own, I did not understand the way my parents reacted at Christmas, seemingly happy just to watch us open our presents. Now, I get it.