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.  

21 thoughts on “The Longest Evening of the Year

  1. That was a fun story of the earrings and how quickly things turned around for you LOL. I too remember a Christmas when I was six years old and Santa left me an “IOU” note for the special doll that my other two sisters received. I remember crying and asking my daddy why I got the note and he told me it was because I was the oldest of my sisters and Santa knew that I would understand and be strong. I didn’t always like being the oldest (three minutes older than my twin sister) but I always loved my daddy’s support and belief in me. I was truly gifted with the most amazing parents and loving family. Happy Yule…the light slowly returns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your dad was a wise man-and you were brave-I sure hope you got the doll- It must have been hard on you and your parents. I am the oldest too-it is a a unique position- I guess they all are. I hope your holidays are beautiful! and thank you

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      1. I did get the doll, the very next day. And I still believed in Santa…still do as I believe the spirit of Santa is passed from generation to generation as we become parents and keep the magic of the holidays alive🎄

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  2. You are so right. Only recently I reflected on the children’s toys won on lucky dips and decided that it did not matter if they broke them, as long as they enjoyed them. (That sounds terribly wasteful, but I try to look at the bigger picture, that £1.50 I paid on the lucky dip at the school fair has gone into school funds to pay for experiences the children will remember for years).

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  3. The finest gifts I have ever received may not have been the largest or prettiest.
    They may not have come from a store at all.
    Glued-together papers with crayon scrawl.
    My own stapler from my desk upstairs.
    A pine cone.
    It’s not the “thought” that counts, it’s the “thinking with the heart”.
    I imagine to Pop the only thing prettier than those earrings was his own children.

    May the peace of the season wrap you.


    Liked by 1 person

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