Yes folks, another year has rolled around to that jolliest of holidays. It's a festival of lights and carols. I used to be so excited. I was 10 yrs. old and lived far out in the country with the 'family of nine'. The tree would be cut from a scraggly selection on our farmland. We made paper chains, colored with crayons and strung popcorn for the tree. When I look back at a few pictures that are still around and see that tree, I smile because I thought it was so beautiful. I think you can wrap strands of lights around a toilet and it will be a beautiful sight to behold when all the lights in the room are dimmed down leaving those bright white, cherry red and tree green lights adorning that repurposed toilet. Mind you, this was never done but you get my drift on the tree that sat proudly in the corner of the living room in our shabby but very clean farm house.
The upstairs of this farmhouse had one long room that ran end to end of the house. Down the center of this long room hung a rope and from that rope sheets were used to divide the room. A metal stovepipe grew from the floor and exited the ceiling in the middle of the room. Four little boys slept on one end of that room while three little girls maintained the other side. We all three slept on our sides and when one turned to the opposite side, everyone got nudged in the side which meant it was time for them to turn too. The beds were piled high with thick homemade quilts. The weight of the fabric promised a warm night of sleep and on a really cold night, we slept in sweatshirts and pants. We could hear the wind as it battered the house and from the small leaky window we could watch as the snow would swirl and pile up on the tin roof that covered the front porch and extended from that window.
Going to bed with wet hair in the winter would usually guarantee frozen wet hair in the morning.
The excitement from the children, my siblings, was crackling in the air. It was not what the tree held beneath it, but the oranges and apples and nuts we would find in our stockings. It was one toy for each. I especially remember the three dolls, all exact in their perfection, sitting side by side under the tree waiting for me and my sisters to find them. Our names were written on one arm of the soft rubber. I had my dollie for years and years. In later years she lived in my grandmother's basement. I'm sure she was there after the grandparents passed and the house was empties.
Sometimes all those seven children could collect pennies found, a dime here or a nickel there and save a dollar during the year for a gift for our mother.
Then our own children came along and we lived through their excitement and as the years passed and the commercialization of Christmas overwhelmed and guilted parents and shoppers into the mall frenzy of shopping, the excitement of Christmas was pushed aside and replaced by stress.
I'm the one that usually groans and complains that 'it's that time of year again and I'm just not into it".
I put up a tree and the tree is perfect in shape, no gaping holes. It ends in a peak where the small angel dressed in white brocade with her neck wrap matching her dress sits and surveys the room.
I heard a man explain why he liked this time of year. A time of renewal, a time for family to gather, the festive feeling and everyone following family traditions. I'm smiling more at people and issuing cheery greetings to everyone. Carrie and I baked together then packaged up the bread pudding and the fudge into pretty holiday containers and delivered them to her teachers on Friday. She was so excited to be "giving". The groans and complaining have vanished. It usually does and I'm colluding with Carrie on making "Firecrackers" for her second grade teacher that we both love. She will be here today to help with 'giving more.'
Her mother usually goes through her toys and makes donations but as Carrie has grown older, her toys are now tech type stuff. Gone are the stuffed animals and the dolls, replaced by special pens and pencils and art paper for drawing so her donation pile is skimpy.
I'm not stressing this season. The economy here is a sad thing with people moving away to find jobs. I'm sure the shopping lists have been shorn down to a minimum. I hope so. I've shopped for the grandchildren and a few others on my list and those gifts have required more thought. This isn't a lavish affair; mine usually aren't but I've limited the amount of spending as the unemployment here has continued to deepen and people are still trying to recover from the flood in August. Many people will be grateful to just get back into their houses that had to be gutted.
It's Sunday and I'm excited. Carrie will do her Christmas shopping today. The traffic will be horrible The crowds will be horrible. but we are not in a hurry. I get my shopping done early so I enjoy getting out in the crowds knowing that everyone is intent on one goal,; getting theirs done.
Yesterday it was 80 degrees. Foul weather was forecasted and as I cracked open the door this morning, I was greeted with a chilly blast of cold air. The streets are wet and gusts of wind are picking up the maple leafs from the lawn and twirling them into the air to send them down the street. Maybe we won't have to rake again.
It's shower time and time to dress in some warm clothes. I'm excited about the cold weather. I can wear jeans, a sweater and a neck scarf and pretend as though snow will be falling which I know is not going to happen.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays...take your pick. I'm gone for the day!