Fair-Weather Friends


I woke yesterday morning to the sound of  a steady rain falling over the rabbit patch.  Usually, I have to ignore the lullaby of rain and rush off as if it wasn’t a fine time to rest-but it is the blessed winter break and so I rested.  It would have been completely blissful had I not wondered if Christopher Robin was dry.

After tidying up and packing to go to Jennys’ home in Elizabeth City, I paid bills.  I detest business of any sort.  It is a cold and impersonal task to sort through official papers full of rules and threats. “Pay by this date” or else they all seem to say.  I would rather be pulling weeds or cooking, but the bills got paid anyway.  I left straight a way to visit with my dear friends, Rae and Jo Dee.  Jo Dee barbecued chicken and I think it was the best I ever ate.  It reminded me of my grandmothers.  Sauce did not always come in a bottle from the grocery store.  Rae and I carried side dishes.  I must mention that Rae made a sweet potato casserole that was topped with brown sugar and pecans.  Rae is known to eat ice cream and cookies, for the majority of her meals.  She is a small woman anyways and seems to flutter through life.  We tease her relentlessly about her lonely stove and dishwasher, but she pulled this off, and deserves some glory.

Jo Dee, like me, lives in a big farmhouse.  There are fields in the front and fields in the back.   It is absolutely a beautiful setting.   Her house and yard are quiet like mine, and with our children mostly grown, both territories seem empty.  Rae lives in a big old house in town.  She lives alone and so we are all especially thankful for the friendship we have-We loved each other before our children grew up, and Raes’ husband died-and  before our houses became big and quiet. We are anything but, fair- weather friends.

 When darkness fell, a cold wind blew in.  When wind travels over a vast field, it brings with it, the scent of pine,  Rae was surprised at how dark the countyside is at night.  Clouds hid the stars I have been bragging about, but ever so often there was a break for Rae to see.  We laughed like young girls most of the night and vowed to visit more regularly.

Against our better judgement, Rae left late at night to go home.  She is brave like that-I brought pajamas.  The countryside, of that community is full of deer.  They dart by in herds, at any given moment.  There are no streetlights to give warning-but Rae went anyway.  She let us know when she got home and so we were able to sleep satisfactorily.

Jo Dee and I had coffee this morning.  We talked a lot about God.  Her little dog, Georgia listened and yawned like it was a too long “Sunday School” session.  Jo Dee had left her Christmas tree up for Rae and I  to see-so we sat in its’ light with our coffee and thoughts, while the sun rose over the field.  I remarked before I left, that I was as content as I could be. . .and that  I was quite thankful for such circumstances .




A Winter Night at the Rabbit Patch


The weather at the rabbit patch is mild, though it is early winter.  Today, I have a few windows up.  The air of winter has a  clean, fresh fragrance.  Often the morning air has a faint memory of woodsmoke from the night before.  In the last few months , days have dawned slowly .  The silvery fog mutes the suns’ first shine and seems to delay the days’ arrival.  Today, dawned brightly-so morning came early.

I am still searching for Christopher Robin, a very young, softly gray colored cat. I do not fully understand the habits of cats.  I have heard stories of cats that return after a while.  I am so hoping this is the case.  His young friend, Moon Shine, seems a bit bewildered and wanders about the farm house, past objects that once enticed him, without much notice. Cash, my loyal boxer seems on high alert and stares out the window, I think, with high expectations.

Late last night, Christian and  I searched the rabbit patch high and low.  We did not find Christopher Robin-but we heard the pine trees whispering as a light wind blew through them.  We stopped a few moments to hear the hushed gentle sound that only a pine makes.  The stars were scarce, but they were as big as I have ever seen them.  In winter, they are scattered about so that the constellations are easy to find.  The starlight was enough to illuminate the old trees-pecans and oaks, the sycamores and sweet gum.  There wasn’t a single leaf on any of them.  I remembered how I love trees in winter as I looked around.

Christian is my youngest son. His shadow in the starlight, was that of a young man.    I couldn’t help but consider that .   I know the rabbit patch like the back of my hand, where every root lies above ground-where the wild violets will bloom in April, but realising I was walking with Christian, now as young man, made it seem like unfamiliar territory .  I saw the outline of an abandoned nest in one of the old trees right about that time.

We came in without a trace of the where abouts of Christopher Robin.  I was glad the night was not harsh, but unusually warm, instead.  We remain hopeful, as is our nature in all sorts of circumstances.

I am cooking a “Sunday dinner” though it is Wednesday.  The boys went to work this morning and will be glad to see more than my fancy china on the table when they come home.  Mama and daddy are coming, too.  As the oven performs its’ duty, I am putting the “Christmas closet” back in order. I will place the wrapping paper and ribbon in the corner.  The box of tags, scissors and tape will go back in and I will post a new list on the inside of the door to record gifts purchased through out the year.  The porch and tree will remain as they are now til Miss Sylvia has her “old Christmas party” in January.  In this way, Christmas does not “vanish into thin air”  as if a crime had taken place-but has a proper farewell, instead.

This day in winter, like the night before it, has been as mild as May.  Though, I can write, no matter the climate, I do not feel inclined to crochet when the sun is shining brightly on the morning table.  I hope to finish  reading “The Mitford Series” this winter .  I am hoping against all odds, for snow, too.

The rabbit patch kitchen smells like a snow has fallen with the ham cooking and string beans simmering-but the open windows tattle that it could be the first day of spring or an Easter Sunday.  After supper, I will go out to say good night and lift my evening prayer of thanksgiving for things like A “Sunday dinner” on a Wednesday night in late December, winter trees and seeing my little son become a young man willing to traipse around a rabbit patch on a winter night . . . . looking for a cat. 

In Late December


In late December and in the absence of Christmas, the rabbit patch is most quiet.  The children went home yesterday.  When the back door shut, I started missing them.  I always indulge myself, on such occasions, by sitting quietly in the den and mourning for a while.  For many years, I just cried outright and convinced myself that surely I  suffered from some mental calamity.

 Yesterday, I tried to avoid a ” nervous breakdown”-as folks used to call it.  That term, when I was young, covered every sort of condition and mostly affected women.  It could be brought on by such things as a flock of children in the house after three days of rain-though it was always the men that were yelling out and seemed in a state of panic.   If a woman was caught crying, she was most likely having “a nervous breakdown”.  So, in that case , I have had one most every year for a decade now, when Christmas is over, and the children go home.

Christmas was a beautiful affair, altogether.  The days before it, I was with Jenny and we made every day count.  There was a family gathering and later a luncheon.  We shopped and wrapped presents. I came home early, Christmas Eve morning and went to work at the rabbit patch.  I cleaned and cooked while the linens were washing.  Mama and Daddy came for an early supper and Brant came home later on that night and so waiting for Tres, Kelsey, Jenny, Will and Lyla was more bearable.

The hours progressed in a typical holiday fashion with a sweet fanfare. Christmas night, we always gather at my parents. Christian brought his guitar and Lyla managed to hand out a few gifts-so there were some truly beautiful moments.  The most shocking thing happened.  I have said earlier that I had started a collection of a Lenox china pattern, Winter Greetings-I soon regretted that as  it is entirely too expensive for my budget- and I am almost sixty years old.  At the rate I was going, I needed to live much longer than members of the tribal communities in Brazil- My mom and sisters gave me twelve dinner plates!    I opened the plates with its’ redbirds and ribbons and was on the verge of tears-My sister, Connie told me several times in the process, that this counted for my birthday too and daddy said I ought to be careful with them.  I just kept unwrapping more redbirds with ribbons.  I finally said “Now, all the children can get married!”  -because now, I had a plate for each.  It was a touching and funny moment, looking back.

Yesterday, we shared our last Christmas meal of this year.  The sunroom needs a ceiling repair and a bedroom needs a new floor-but my table showed indications, that all was well at the rabbit patch.  That table was “set by love” by the women in my family and I may sound vain, but it was beautiful!

  This morning, is especially quiet and so I have already planned a strategy to avoid a “nervous breakdown” again, today.  I will part with some of my other dishes to make room for that china.  I will deal with left over food and I will look for Christopher Robin as he took a “a walk-about” and has never done so before.  I looked this morning and saw a lifeless creature in the road.  I glanced as it is all I could bare to do.  I commenced to crying and vowed I could carry on without him.  A neighbor saw me upset, and when I told her the story, she declared to me that what I had seen was not Christopher Robin, but a poor little rabbit.  I went out again to the dreadful scene and found she was right.  I had been crying an hour over losing the sweetest cat I had ever known, but now, with renewed strength, I will search again and proclaim him a naughty and worrisome companion, when I find him.  I will fuss about his poor behavior, when a door is opened . . . . but oh, how, I hope I find him.


While “Silent Stars Go By”


I love the days before Christmas.  Days pass presenting all sorts of tasks that I find pleasant.  There is always one more present to wrap or a new decoration to add to the porch.  Occasions are anticipated while the winter sun shines, for  gatherings  to come, when the silent stars go by.

Jenny and I had a successful shopping spree yesterday. We found several gifts that suited those still on our Christmas lists.  Lyla was dressed in an adorable winter white dress-but was barefoot before our first purchase.  She never quarreled about anything else, as no matter the direction she glanced, there were lights in all colors.  Reindeer grazed around every corner, guarded by gallant nutcrackers and ” there were shepherds abiding- keeping watch over their flocks” too. “Silver Bells”, my grandmothers’ favorite carol, played while we shopped-and all of  the other traditional songs of the season, did too.  Lyla loves “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night”.

Not long, after arriving home, Jenny and I began wrapping presents.  Lyla reminded me of “Moon Shine’, my naughty kitten, at the Rabbitpatch”.  She too, snatched any scrap of ribbon  and paper .  She also snatched chocolates and jewelry.  She found her own bedroom shoes and put them on!  Jenny wrapped them anyway.  

Lyla and I went out to the porch, so Jenny could finish up.  The afternoon was mild for December.  We watched the neighbors hang more lights.  A black cat came to visit and a neighbor brought a box of cookies.  Ever so often, someone would walk by and say “Merry Christmas!” It was a nice while, we spent  on the porch.  I, who find solace in fields, now love sidewalks, too.

Last night, Will’s family came for dinner.  They are a delightful lot and handsome too.  The women are especially pretty .  They are so friendly, you feel like you belong to them right off.  Will has a lot of family in Elizabeth City, that means Jenny and Lyla do too.  What good that does my heart, to think that all over the town, are people that love them.  

Today, Jenny is having  a luncheon- and I got up extra early, because of that.  We still need to go to the coffee shop and again, to the grocery store.  There is candy to be made and we will need to wrap the coffees.  Such is the way of life at Christmas time-and the days before it.  Many people say, that we ought to keep Christmas in our heart, all year round-and I can agree that the generosity and well wishes should be practiced in all seasons- but some things belong to Christmas, and I mean Christmas only.  That is the reason gingerbread is not eaten on the beach in July, nor do we listen to songs about sleigh bells in April.  Such things belong to Christmas-and Christmas only.

The “silent stars go by” til at last it will be Christmas Eve, when my children will come home .  When I bought the rabbitpatch, a decade ago, a dear friend, knowing my love for all things Christmas, gave me a very old framed sampler.  It is is dated 1909 and “Grace” had stitched her name neatly in the corner.  It read, “All Hearts Come Home for Christmas”-and of all the wonderful things that happen during the holiday, I think Grace was right. . . and to me it is surely the most wondrous gift of all.


The Longest Evening of the Year


 The first day of winter is here, and with it “the longest evening of the year.”  I do not begrudge the way of winter.  The rabbit patch , like all of the earth has earned the rest that winter offers.  Fields lay bare, as they ought to now and trees do not cast shade, but both have served their purpose faithfully.  They have fed us and so I can not bring myself to quarrel with either.  The cold wind grooms the countryside with an icy hand  at times and makes me grateful for the hearth in the old farmhouse.

Schools closed early  today and does not resume til after the new year.  I came home and wrapped a few more gifts while supper simmered.  Moon Shine behaved awfully the entire time.   I do not dare let him near the Christmas tree.  There is an old french door keeping him out of mischief .  I see how he stares  through the glass panes and I declare he is plotting .  He is a fat kitten with a shining tuxedo, these days before Christmas.  It seems a long while ago that he was a wild kitten.

I will spend the first few days of winter, in Elizabeth City.  Jenny and I have some shopping left.  I do not mind shopping in little book stores , nor looking for fine coffee.  My Christmas list is tattered and worn by now.  Soon, it will be placed in a scrap book as a record , of sorts.  Lyla has already opened “The Night Before Christmas” and tomorrow she will open a little china cup, that Jenny predicts, will not last long.

The truth is, most gifts do “not last long”.  Some are used up.  Many get scattered about or broken, by and by.  Trendy gifts lose their charm very quickly and any sort of gadget becomes out-dated in less than a fortnight.  People say “it is the thought that counts”  and I have found this to be accurate.

 When my grandmother died,  Pop, did not know what to do with Christmas.  Delores and I were very young teenagers, the year he decided to shop on his own.  Delores opened her gift first.  It was a set of earrings-and they were ugly.  She held one of them up, stunned.  They were bold and big.  I could not imagine any occasion to wear them and the look on her face caused me to cackle.  I finally sputtered something about their beauty and how I couldn’t wait to see her wear them.  Delores gave me a hateful look , which tickled me more.  Pop, was totally unaware of my amusement-he was upset because Delores had opened MY present!  Oh, how swiftly revenge came.  Now Delores, was laughing as she handed me the box with deepest regrets. She ended up with a dainty necklace, pretty enough to put on right that minute.

 I am older now and have since imagined Pop in  the unfamiliar territory of a store that did not sell fertilizer.  I wonder how long it took him to pick out our gifts and I am just sure he did put a lot of thought in them.  I am also sure he had rather been cleaning out a barn or mowing a ditch bank than shopping. Sadly, I do not know what became of those earrings, but I remember Pop  presenting his gifts proudly with a big smile . . . It really is the thought that counts, after all- for that is what has lingered  within me. That happened many, many winters ago, when I was young- and before I understood such things.  

The Sunday Before Christmas


I woke up this Sunday before Christmas, in Elizabeth City.  I am usually the first one to wake, no matter, the roof I am under, and today was no different.  I did not stir the first few minutes as “visions of sugar plums” were still in my head.  It may as well have been Christmas morning, a long time ago.  I woke from  sleep under the same roof  that Tres and Jenny slept beneath-and I do not know why it made such a difference, but it did.  I did not want to break that beautiful spell.  If reindeer had been grazing in the yard, it would have seemed quite ordinary-this Sunday before Christmas.

 I did rouse, for coffee.  I needed to consider  breakfast and went to the porch, to do so.  Outside, it was April.  Christmas lights lit the street  and blackbirds were flying-otherwise, I could have declared it was early spring and so I warned the willow, not to be fooled.

Kelsey joined me first.  Kelsey is a sweet soul, who helps tremendously, in quiet ways.  She tends to tie loose strings, neatly and does not need a bit of fanfare for it. Every family would benefit from having someone like Kelsey to claim as their own.

Jenny came downstairs with Lyla next.  Lyla wakes up sweet and mild .  She says “good morning”  with smiles and gentle hugs . Jenny made more coffee and planned the breakfast.  Jenny is a capable young woman and a good homemaker, which to me is noble.  She and Will had gone to a sophisticated Christmas party, the night before.  I watched her get ready while she gave me details about Lylas’ supper and which pajamas she would wear.  Kelsey gave Jenny a fancy hairdoo and helped her to decide what to wear.  It did not seem too long ago that Jenny had asked Santa Clause for fried chicken and diamond earrings. I “pondered these things in my heart” as all mothers do.

When the house smelled like bacon, Will and Tres got up. The atmosphere was lively and happy.  I was “having a wonderful life” in that kitchen, this Sunday before Christmas-and it seemed to me that before I open the first gift of this Christmas, I can say with certainty,  I already have everything, I have ever wanted.

A Most Wonderful Time of the Year


It is that time, when bells are ringing and children are singing.  It is the Christmas season, the most wonderful time of the year, many say.  It is hard not to declare this a truth, when kitchens smell like cookies and twinkling lights wrap around porches like southern vines.

Winter break begins on Wednesday, and until then, the rabbit patch corners are piled with presents to be wrapped, pretty paper and ribbons and possibly more lights.  The “morning table”  has a list beside the lamp, which is significant, as I never make a list for anything. . . unless it is Christmas.

Moon Shine, has decided he is a proper house cat now.  Maybe, Christmas is a factor.  He is the worst thing to wrap presents with.  Cash and Christopher Robin are content to nap or watch from a safe distance.  Moon Shine is underfoot hoping a scrap of ribbon falls his way-he feels the same way about shiny paper.  The scissors have been found in another room altogether because I took a coffee break.  Apparently, he does not believe in Santa nor wonder if “reindeer really know how to fly”.  He is willing to take his chances, on that.  Jenny says the same thing about Lyla.

This morning, I am up early.  The Christmas season at the rabbit patch is so far, foggy.  The heavy mist with the bare trees  gives a wintry picture out the window.  If I glance in the direction of my neighbors,  I see the glow of their strung lights and think what a lovely card it would make- otherwise, it looks like  a scene from “Wuthering Heights”.

Tres and Kelsey are on the way to the rabbit patch, now.  We will leave for Elizabeth City, shortly.  Will and Jenny have been in their new home just a few months, but Jenny knew where the Christmas tree would be, long before she knew where the sofa and beds would be placed.  Today,  I will witness her decision and sing “Jingle bells” with Lyla.  I look forward to showing Tres our familiar  trek by the river and discussing Christmas secrets with Kelsey.  

At Christmas, I gather memories by taking great note of such occasions . I hoard them up like something precious, because to me, they are.  They are the “stories in the making” that I will tell Lyla and the children to come, in our family.  I will deliver them  tenderly and with great honor, as in some sense, they are our  own”gold, frankincense and myrrh” .

Making a List and Checking it Twice


The lovely December moon has risen over the field, supper is cooked and I am in another session of gift wrapping.  I am watching “Holiday Affair”, another old black and white film.  There is coffee in a china cup on my “morning table” and on my frequent breaks, I write- and so for me all is well in my world.

I make a Christmas list and tack it on the door of my Christmas closet.  The closet is actually an old wardrobe.  I buy through out the year and so must keep an account of things bought as  I find them. Flowers may be blooming or corn growing, when I find something that suits someone on my list, but such conditions  do not hinder my Christmas spirit- besides, this habit keeps Christmas a bit less complicated and keeps me from becoming desperate-a state I deplore.  I have never once, made a good decision in desperation.

One year, a long while back, I did not have presents to wrap.  The children were all young and while I knew my family would  make sure the children  had gifts-I just could not shake the despair I felt.  At last, I sat them all down to tell them the dire news.  They were as quiet as “little church mice” while I assured them that things were bound to improve .   My oldest son, Brant spoke up and said “mom, could you just get something for the little boys?” Jenny and Tres loved the idea and were chiming in, in full agreement.  Brant was maybe eleven.  Jenny was nine and Tres almost eight years old.  My heart was touched so that, their goodness caused me to believe that surely my children  were as pure as the driven snow.  Gratitude spilled out in tears . . .and then Kyle  around four, piped in and said “I think that could work!”  Oh, “pride does often go before a fall.”  We all laughed about it then and we still do now. 

A dear friend, Julie, gave me an artificial tree that same year.  I put it together, but the thing had the habit of just toppling over at any given moment.  It fell one time too many to suit me and when it did, I picked the whole tree up and threw it out the front door, ornaments and all.  It was poor behavior and the memory shames me.  An hour or so later,  Julie came in with the tree and “spoke not a word, but went straight to her work”.  She corrected my assembly mishaps and the little tree stood upright and steadfast as any “tin soldier “.

Not always does Christmas come with the best circumstances- This year , as  I wrap sweet little tokens and place them under the tree  I remember  that Christmas.  It  offered more than broken ornaments .  Family and friends reminded us ,that prosperity reveals itself in more than one form.  Things did improve, after all-and I have never since had the notion to throw a Christmas tree out the front door.


Once Upon a Time


No other holiday, is remembered with the same magnitude, as Christmas. Christmas has so many more details and the older you become, the dearer and clearer, the memories seem.  I am not old yet, but I am well on the way-at least far enough, to know that there are some memories, I hold in my own heart, that bare little resemblance to Christmas, as it is now.

The Christmas season was well defined, just  a few decades ago. when I was a child. Other than a birthday, a child never expected presents- of course shopping was different altogether.  The butchers’ shop held no allure for me , nor the seafood market.  The A&P sold food and the hardware stores sold tools and fertilizer-and these places were our regular stops.  In my earliest memories, commercials were for tonics and tobacco, for grown folks.  I just never had a notion to think about toys, til just before Christmas, when the Sears & Roebuck catalog came in the mail.

One does not need to be as old as me to remember that event.  The Christmas edition had a section of toys.  Mama gave us an ink pen to circle our favorites, so Santa Claus would know.  I always chose a doll-not a Barbie, but a doll baby.  Little girls loved their dolls a long time ago.  I think it is much easier to love a doll, when you have just one.  My doll family grew slowly over childhood.  They were my children.  They played under the grapevine with me in July and said their prayers at night.  They had to nap when I was away and they got sick in the winter.

Usually, Santa brought real glass tea sets.  My sister, knocked my first tooth out with a tiny cup that had delicate blue flowers on it.  There was always a game or a puzzle, fruit and nuts.  We woke to the smell of fruit and knew Santa had been.  I asked mama about this, when I grew up.  She said, when she was young, apples and oranges were only available during the Christmas season in the grocery stores and so she had kept the practice, because of her memories.  I like that, and so I buy fruit at Christmas too-enough that you smell it, all over the farmhouse.  I can not say the same for the nuts.  I remember my sister and I working with a hammer for the longest time to crack the shells of those nuts.  We smashed our fingers and broke the cinder blocks we used to crack them on.  When we finally got one open-well, it was just a nut-and not as good as the pecans we were used to.

Christmas trees were cedar and fresh cut.  I remember Daddy would find them and keep his eye on them for years, til they were big enough.  Most often, they would have a “bad side, which we turned to the wall.  I clearly remember, the year grandmama decided to get a “modern” tree.  We went over to see it and were speechless.  It was called an “aluminum tree” and was silver with bright blue ornaments.  It folded up and came in a box.  I thought it was the most unnatural  thing I had ever seen-and it probably was.  I remember thinking, that it must have come from “Hawaii” which was the furthrest place away, I knew of and I reckoned things were different there.

We always  went to church on any given Sunday, but at Christmas, we sang the carols.  It was my favorite music of the year-it still is.  I wondered why we could only sing them at Christmas.  We sang them a Sunday or two, only and we never had time to sing all of them. Thankfully, my aunt Agnes could play the piano .  Her music was lively and unlike the church music.  She smiled and sang while we stood by the piano, mesmerized. When we sang “Joy to the World”, we meant it!   She always had cakes and pies on the “deep freeze” and she cooked as well as she played the piano.  Little elves lived at all my relatives’ houses and Aunt Agnes’ house was no different.  If I dared hurried while in a house-as if I MIGHT run, an elf saw me every time-because mama saw them. She could describe them with full details down to what they were wearing-because I always asked.

The simplicity of the Christmases past, does not make them less memorable, but instead more so, I realise.  Maybe, being a child, is all it’s cracked up to be and no matter how much we strive for  a bigger version, we do not hinder the truest form of Christmas Spirit-but I will buy fruit anyway this year, as my mama did-  and I will tell Lyla. . .”Once upon a time,  people were grateful for apples and oranges.”

All is Merry and Bright


All is merry and bright at the rabbit patch.  There is a Christmas tree by the farmhouse window -and at long last-full of shining lights.  Today, I hope to wrap presents and add the ornaments I have collected from places like Miss Alethias’ Christmas shop in Bath.  Each year, for a long time, I buy five ornaments, representing my children.  Today, the humble tree will proudly bear witness to that habit.  I will hang the snowflakes and remember that Jenny loved them best, when she was five.  The five little birds, are there because my grandmother loved birds- and on and on I will go, til the last ones are hung.  

The kitchen table will not have room for even a sandwich today.  It will be littered with scissors, tape and ribbons, instead. I expect “Moon Shine”, previously known as “the wild kitten”, will be in the midst of the scrap paper.  Rest assured, he will only see the tree through the old french door, if I can help it.  Moon Shine is curious and playful and apt to reap havoc.  I am sure that the red glass ornaments, Kyle picked out would erase all of our efforts to make him a civilized cat.

I find that people either love to wrap  gifts or detest it immensely-of course I love it.  I take great pains to find just the right paper and ribbons.  This year, I am only using red and white in various forms.   Bags are a last resort, no matter how pretty they are.  There is something magical about the minute it takes to unwrap a present.   Whatever paper is left-and I buy accordingly- will be used to wrap Brants’ presents as he has the habit of coming in Christmas Eve with a satchel of unwrapped presents, in a state of panic.  I smile, because my Brant is home-and I just happen to have the kitchen table cleared .

While, I am wrapping presents, I will  have an old Christmas movie on.  I strongly prefer the old black and white movies.  The themes are so much more tender.  Today, it will be “Little Women”  and maybe “It Happened on 5th Avenue”, if time allows.  I will drink coffee out of a fancy piece of Christmas China.  It is “Winter Greetings” by Lenox and   so very expensive.  I bought this piece on clearance and will look for another piece this year-in January.  When there is a sufficient amount of presents wrapped,  I will call Christian to place them under the tree.  He is an artist in every sense and will place them in a pleasing order.  It will be a lovely sight when all is said and done.

Before the baking day and before the pine boughs are brought in, there is today- when the tree is decorated and stories are told- and when ribbons are tied on pretty boxes full of Christmas secrets.  At the rabbit patch today,  truly, all is merry and bright.


“Oh, Christmas Tree”


There is almost, a Christmas tree at the rabbit patch window, which I am sure was placed, for that purpose.  A good while back, someone bought me one of those pre-lit trees.  I love real trees, but it did seem practical and it was very handy, eliminating the fuss with the lights that I  always dread.  Up until now, the little tree has behaved nicely.  This year, it proudly boasts eight working lights.  I  love Christmas, anyway.

Meanwhile, Miss Susies’ House, looks like a postcard.  It is hard for me to imagine her quarreling with lights-if she does, she wins every time.  This little community has high standards for decorations and I am quite proud to be a part of it, even if the odds are stacked against me.  

As much as I adore Christmas lights and wreaths on doors-as much I love ribbons on lanterns and bird feeders too-It is the feeling that Christmas stirs in my heart, that I love the most.  I think all of the details evoke a sense of celebrating with gratitude.  We have never exchanged extravagant gifts at the rabbit patch.  Gifts here, are more like sweet little tokens-and I think we are all better off for it.  I am a practical person, by nature and I have found it a good habit.  Even, when the children were little,  I took great pains to keep Christmas an experience instead of an occasion to collect enough things, to be happy.  This may be why my grown children ask for  things like socks,  guitar strings or a nice candle, every year.

The kitchen is the one place, that I act like “a big spender”.  Everybodys’ favorites are somewhere on the counter.  Jenny will have a cheesecake and Kyle will have fresh baked bread.  Tres will have fancy coffee, Christian will have eggnog  and I will fry pork chops at any given hour, if Brant wants them.  We gather  around a softly burning fire and have been known to play carols on guitars and violins.  If it sounds quaint and old-fashion, it is, but the memory lingers far longer than anything with a price tag.

This is the reason that I go steadfast in to battle with those undependable strands of lights  on the tree.   The tree says “Merry Christmas!” to the world, shining  through the farmhouse window.  .  . and welcome home to my children.

 With renewed courage,  I will finish  the task tonight and the humble tree will become a blazing beacon to all who happen by the rabbit patch, this season.   Maya Angelou said “You can tell a lot about a person, by the way they handle tangled Christmas lights.”  I know exactly what she meant.

A Wreath on the Rabbit Patch Door


At last, the rabbit patch declares that the Christmas season is upon us.  There is a wreath on every door with little twinkling lights that brighten the late autumn fog.  I added a little tree with lights tonight, to the porch of the farmhouse.  The affect is cheerful, as it ought to be at Christmas.

I have tied red ribbons on bird feeders and lanterns in the yard.  Not long afterwards, a strong wind started blowing and the ribbons are tattered because of it.  Still, they add a charming touch. Somehow they seem in the natural state of things on the rabbit patch.

There is a lot more to do still.  Tomorrow is Kyles’ birthday and the day the tree is put up.  This tradition started when he was around four and now it seems “a law” of sorts.  I suppose I will always abide by it, as it would not feel right  to do so on any other day.

I do have more than a few presents to wrap.  The shopping trip with my mom, sisters and niece was a sweet success, in more ways than one.  We arrived in Rocky Mount in the first part of the morning.  At the first store, while checking out, I discovered that the credit card had expired in November.  I am not in the habit of using it-or checking the mail either, so such a thing could be expected.  At this  very moment, I remembered my bank card was on the morning table-at the rabbit patch. I had a little cash, so it was my destiny, to do a little shopping.  Actually, I shopped more carefully and focused more on visiting, than usual.  This may have been my favorite trip.  I have been striving to live more simply and without money, this was assured that day.  I did manage to buy some fine chocolate to improve our spirits-and it worked.  We cast our weariness aside and headed straight a way for a donut shop.  

We shopped longer than the sun shined that day.  Hayley and I browsed in the book store together and I was thrilled that she is still writing-though she said “not the way you do”-she writes in a journal and prefers prompts. I was glad to hear this and also to hear she still enjoys crafts.  Connie, my youngest sister , loves pretty dishes as I do and so we spent some time admiring kitchen items.  Delores and I purchased the chocolate and shopped for fancy soap.  Mama told the story of her mom, buying me my first coat-a red one, and later a high-chair from a store that closed a long while ago.   She told it tenderly and I realised that no matter how many Christmases have passed, she still misses my grandmother.

    I had no problem falling asleep last night.   I thought how the day was a good one.  I thought of all the little parts of it that made it beautiful  and it seemed to me, that a lack of money did not prevent me from getting gifts, after all.