I came to Elizabeth City on Thursday. A light rain fell from a gray sky. Every river I crossed was just alittle more blue than the sky. The detour was still active, and this made the trip a bit longer, but still I managed to get there before twilight.
I have been so busy that I really only knew it was sometime just before Christmas. I was not aware of the date, and as far as what day it was . . .well it was just before the weekend. I had carried my unwrapped gifts with me for Jenny and I have established a tradition of wrapping her gifts together, anyway. I had shopped early and mostly finished, but not a one was wrapped to be given at this particular gathering.
When I saw Lyla and Brynn, it felt like Christmas time.
On Friday, Jenny and I ventured out. Both of us had some loose ends to tie up. Lyla was the perfect child companion on this day and not one doll caused her to have a single unpleasant moment. Brynn is usually content -as long as she has her mama. So, we all had a nice outing and found most everything on our list.
We wrapped presents most of the afternoon. Lyla and I made gingerbread cookies, which turned out soft and tasted as good as any I have ever had. We used a cookie stamp, for the first time, which does sound so simple, but we decided more practice was needed. By the time Brant and Sydney arrived, supper was ready and their presents were under the tree. Daddy had a good day, so all was well on this day.
Tres and Christian were arriving on Saturday, so when I woke, it seemed like a special morning. After Breakfast, Brant Sydney and Will, went out to finish up their shopping. Jenny and I wrapped more presents and did some housekeeping. I had to go the grocery too. The place was mad with folks rushing and the store was out of many things. It took twice as long as usual, but I came out with everything on the list. I got the last of the rutabagas , the last of the string beans and the last of the pineapple. No matter how hectic the store was, there were plenty of smiles and if you but caught the eye of a fellow shopper, you were greeted with a “Merry Christmas”. As soon as I got home, I started peeling the rutabagas, for that is a long and tiresome task.
Tres and Christian got in just after dark. Brant was installing some projection lights on the house, much to the delight of Lyla . . and me too. Tres had bought some too and so the uncles set about to get the things connected. It was so lovely, that folks slowed down or stopped altogether, to look. All the while, those rutabagas cooked. I had a pot of the beans simmering and finally added some pork chops, which made a good combination. We had a late, but good supper . . .and then Jenny wanted to open our freshly wrapped presents.
Lyla gave out the presents and announced who they were from. She never once opened her gifts or asked about them. Brynn watched in amusement . Lyla finally opened her own gifts and the whole affair ended on that note. While we were cleaning up, I remembered a gift for Tres, that was nowhere to be found. We searched high and low. It was in Lylas’ closet. I suspected she had something to do with it. She wanted the reindeer bag for herself, as it turned out. Previously, all of the figurines from the nativity were missing. Lyla told me they had all left and that was her explanation. Jenny found them in a teapot, creamer and every available cup, later.
It was a late night for all of us. I had somehow kept up with Mama & Daddy. Mama was very tired, but otherwise, things were good. I went to sleep without the gumption to even pray. I simply hoped the best for everyone.
Sunday was the conclusion of our gathering. Parting always makes me sorrowful-and even though we will gather again, Christmas night, I dreaded ending this beautiful time. We had breakfast and then, Lyla and I baked Scottish shortbread cookies for Sydney to carry with her. Christian played his guitar while we made the cookies and Lyla sang along.
I made a pot of vegetable beef soup for lunch and then Brant and Sydney had to leave. Brant, has as hard a time as I do with good byes. No one is ever ready for it to end. We are a soft lot for one another and seem bound internally. Lyla was sad to see them go, and so when Christian asked me the time we were leaving, she said “Oh no! not you too!” When we do all leave, Jenny says Lyla will say forlornly, “I miss Uncle Brant, Uncle Tres, Honeybee . . .until we are all named, one by one.
I helped Jenny wrap the rest of her presents and noticed I was feeling “off”. There were a number of culprits to blame and I was too tired to decipher which was the cause. Reluctantly, I decided to leave early enough to get a good nights sleep and consume as much elderberry as I could.
Christian and I had a nice drive home. The sky was spectacular and we both loved the winter trees. I have not really spent a bit of time in weeks with Christian and so I made the most of our drive home. Some of my best conversations are with Christian. Of course, we share the same views of life and agree on most everything. It was a sweet consolation to depart with him.
I half expected my dog, Cash to bark when I saw him. He was joyfully prancing about instead though, and neither he nor my cat, Christopher Robin, seemed to be holding a grudge despite my long absence. I had missed them both and it cheered me to see them. Christian unloaded the car and I started a load of laundry. The kitchen table was full of all sorts of things -none of it was food. I do not like such disorder, but decided I could stand it for a night. I took a dose of elderberry and called Mama.
Christmas is a favorite time for me. It is bright and merry and even the hard hearted are apt to be more tender at Christmas. I love exchanging gifts, though I do not fall headlong into the exaggerated commercialism. I think big spending, for the sake of the holiday, robs us all of peace and dims the meaning of Christmas. Lyla will receive three simple gifts from Santa, in keeping with the gifts of the Wise men. Even “Santa” is introduced much like a fairy tale. Still Lyla will toss reindeer food on the lawn and listen for sleigh bells.
There is something about Christmas. I cannot justify why I love gingerbread mostly, at Christmas. I love the traditional, old fashion music and have yet to like any of the modern songs. The house ought to smell like pine or cedar – and fruit, which makes no sense as fruit is readily available in all seasons now. I embrace these traditions and look forward to this season, really, all year . . . But Christmas is a holy time for me, first and foremost. It is too easy to lose sight of this, with all the fanfare, but far from impossible. There is room for trimming the tree and making cookies, and tying bows on gifts for loved ones. . .for all commemorate the joy of the season. It is no wonder to me that ” All Hearts Come Home for Christmas.”
Since Will mailed the Christmas Cards this year, but forgot to use stamps . . .here is what could have been . . .