These latter days of autumn are very akin to winter. Nights are cold now and so we rise to heavy frost that shines and sparkles in the first light. The barren fields, are covered in a dazzling luster. I woke to a strong north wind, yesterday. that stripped most of the leaves from the old trees- and carried them to their destiny, far from the rabbitpatch. Now the shade on the territory is scant, reduced to thin lines that curve and zig zag, across the territory, when the sun shines.
Recently, I don a coat and gloves in the early morning and the car must be warmed up. I do not mind cold as some do, but I will complain if there is a gusty wind, in addition.
With this being our first Thanksgiving, without Daddy, and my friend, Julie dying just before the holiday, well, it was a gloomy time. I counted my blessings, reciting them all day, for I have so many. . .but grief was ever present. I could not shake it – and to say otherwise,would be sheer falsehood. Mama and I spent the day together, with brief visits from Kyle and Christian -and Jenny, Sydney and Sarah brought the grandchildren in the afternoon. Those moments were bright spots. Our family would be gathering on Friday, so Thursday just felt hollow and so lacking. I suppose a parade could have passed by, and wouldn’t have altered our state of mind. Mama and I went to bed early.
Friday was better. It was a mild day and just right for our outside gathering. There were all sorts of tasks and that helped too. I stirred the caramel sauce and Mama decorated the garage. A turkey was roasting and Brant and Tres were frying another one. Sydney came in with a huge pan of macaroni and cheese, that took the place of the turkey, the minute it came out. Jenny had a corn pudding, my sister, Delores came in with a ham and a casserole. Delores began organizing the food and Ryan sought out little sticks and rocks, Brynn stuck close to her Mama, as she is shy. Often she will cover her face,if she is given too much attention. Lyla and Christian took a walk . .and so how soothing the hustle and bustle was. We wore masks, when we weren’t eating and took extra precautions to be safe. Those practices are habits now, for us.
Tres is out of school now and so he is at the rabbitpatch! Christian and I are thrilled. The boys have cut wood, fixed the dryer and Tres fixed two doorknobs that have not worked for a year. We have deep conversations- real content, that provokes thought. We have tackled science, government and religion, already. We have discussed documentaries and of course, what to have for supper. Conversations with Tres, always inspire me to “do better ” .
Will and Jenny moved this weekend! Wills’ mom had a home just a few miles away, in the same vicinity. It is a smaller home and so, they “downsized” before me! The new location will not hinder my walks by the”laughing river”. It is also closer to “Aunt J”, which thrills all of us. I cried with happiness when Jenny spent the first night. How good it felt to know that she was safely tucked in -as if she were six all over again. The heart of a mother does snot recognize the difference time oughtto make. This was a “milestone” to celebrate. I hope to visit in the next few weeks . By then there will be a wreath on the door!
Ryan is cutting a tooth and every little consequence of that has worried Brant, terribly. He even fed him chicken broth, one night! Sydney, is concerned, of course, but oh, how calm she remains for Ryan AND Brant!
Now, it is Monday, and with my lessons posted , my sisters and I are meeting at Mamas’ to decorate for Christmas. There is a chilly rain falling in silver drops that beckon to you to make a fire-and to serve a hearty supper.
Delores had arrived the night before. She was hanging a bow on the mailbox, as I drove up. What a sweet sight! Connie and my niece, Hayley, were right behind me. With everyone gathered and Bing Crosby singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, a sense of celebration filled the house.
Hayley had a surprise for us, right off. She had pillows for each of us, made from Daddys’ shirts. Of course we all cried, for we are missing Daddy and most especially during the holidays-but at least some of our tears were for the beauty of this gift. I was deeply moved by Hayleys’ thoughtfulness. Moments later, Connie and Delores were unpacking the Christmas china, while Dana and I gathered up the many cardinal ornaments , we would use . Mama had decided on that theme, for this particular year. We had a light lunch, and celebrated Delores’ and Hayleys’ approaching birthdays.
Everyone worked again after lunch. It got about cold and so we hurried along on the outside garland and lights. Both of my sisters are quite handy at the things that I am not, so there is never a quarrel about who does what. By the time that the world dimmed, the house was aglow with Christmas lights and Delores had put bows on most any thing that did not move. I glanced back, as I drove away and thought, what a good day.
On Friday. Mama and I will leave for Raleigh. We are doing Christmas a different way this year, due to the virus that is raging through our “neck of the woods”. We will have several small visits, with family, instead of the usual large gathering.
Being so very sentimental, I really love tradition . . .and so I am already missing the way things were. Hayley and I did not linger in a bookstore this year, while the others shopped. . .nor eat fine chocolate, because “they were taking too long”. The grandchildren will not gather to visit with Santa and Mama will not need to supplement seating in her house, on Christmas night. With the violin program, closed at school this year, I have not heard “Jingle Bells played a thousand times . . .well, on and on I could go proclaiming the woes of this creature of habit, for life has changed in general.
It makes me feel quite shallow to whine about it, when I consider that my grandparents had a Christmas meal, on ration cards. I think of the many folks, who lost their livelihoods this year and the many “empty chairs” across the entire world, this particular year.
I have come to realize a few things. Fortitude is quite under estimated and we ought to cultivate it in ourselves-and in our children, with great zeal. You can bet your life, it will be needed as surely as water. Likewise, gratitude. We must learn to recognize our blessings. We get so very used to them, that we treat them like an old beside lamp. But oh! how we like that light on a long winter night. Really, gratitude sparks joy, which is another element, we will need . . again like water. Current conditions implore us to look deeply and to see clearly, what does really matter. We all have the chance, to define our truth with precision.
I can not afford to miss this opportunity, for it is like a “baptism” . . and I so hope “this one takes” . . . “for wild and sweet, the words repeat . . . Peace on Earth, Good will to men.”