Just Before Christmas, at the Little Rabbitpatch

Just now, the day is dimly lit and so quiet.  The boxer and the soft gray cat have had their breakfast.  Christian is leaving for work . . .and the Christmas lights are shining brightly. 
Morning is one of my favorite times.  Oh!  What lofty notions come to me in the morning.  I start out contemplative and reflective.  I think of my loved ones-even those long passed.  In this way,  I remember them.  I suppose this is a kind of tribute.  The gifts they gave me, have lingered all of my life, after all. . . .  and then, suddenly, I am planning tasks . . and supper! 
The little rabbitpatch is now, decked out for Christmas.  There are little fairy lights on boughs of cedar at both entrances, several wreaths and solar lanterns hanging in unlikely places.  The cowbells that adorn the crepe myrtle, are tied with long ribbons and look as merry as anything.  The little house on Bonnet Street, is not the only place full of Christmas spirit-so is Mamas’ house. 
My sisters and I met there on Monday .  We” decked the halls”-and put up the tree.  We had a good meal and Mama made Delores, her favorite cake for an early birthday celebration.  Niece Hayley is now engaged! so we threw out some wedding ideas for sister Connie . . and we planned a birthday trip for Mama in February! It was  lovely time, altogether. 
Back at the little rabbitpatch, Christmas music wafts through the house softly-and almost constantly.  I like the old carols best.  There is such an over abundance of distractions from the holiness of  Christmas, so I take what measures  I can, to avoid the worldly clutter.  . . and there is so very much clutter. 
 I have always tried to stay focused on the spiritual meaning of the holiday, but this year especially, I have ramped up my intentions.  Truthfully, I regret having not celebrated with any gumption, the past two years.  Grief, busyness and loss , now seem like lame excuses to dismiss such a holy time. This year, I will do better. 
I went to Elizabeth City, this past weekend.  How good to see “the littlest women” in the family.   
Brynn was sick with an awful something, about the whole time.  Oh, how tenderly she was cared for.  Jenny had pineapple juice, chicken broth and honey on hand at all times. Lyla brought water and a soft Christmas blanket, whenever Brynn whimpered. 
One day, Lyla and I took Aunt J, some special treats.  On the way back, we took the long way, to see Christmas lights. I hope we can do that again before the holiday season ends.   When we got home, Lyla made a “wish on a star”-it was really Venus and I told her, but she decided to take a chance and wish anyway.  I did too. . . .just in case.  She did not wish for a toy . . .and neither did I.  To me, that moment was a bright, silver one. 
On Monday, Brynn still had the hacking cough, but her eyes were bright and her little cheeks had a rosy glow.  Jenny kept Brynn home because of that cough.  I left on Tuesday, for I had to work on Wednesday. 
Saturday was a happy day.  Tres and Sarah are spending Christmas in Florida with Sarahs’ family.  Sarahs’ parents are so excited.  Sarahs’ mom has already sent pictures of some mighty fancy baked goods.  I could just feel her joyful excitement as I saw the pictures.  In light of this trip, I hosted my first occasion at the new rabbitpatch.  We had a brunch.  Tres, Sarah, Mama and Kyle came- and Christian came after work.  I finally used my Christmas China and how lovely the table looked!  It was a simple, but extra special way to spend the day.
Another thing . . .and if folks laugh as they read this, I will not take offense.  The first rabbitpatch, is under contract-again. If I sound less than enthusiastic it is only because, I am.  I certainly hope to sell it . .and maybe, the third time is a charm after all.    
Just now, I am going through the motions, as if it really will transpire, however, I am well versed in how quickly things can change, in general.  With that in mind, I have developed the awful art of second guessing everything.  It is tiring and since truthfully, there is really no certainty to anything under the sun, it is a fruitless practice.  I am questioning my lofty notions, that I have dwelled on for a few years now . . or are they sensible ideas?  Somedays, I feel overly cautious, on how to proceed- certain that calamity is just around the bend-other times, I feel like following my heart (or my gut) certain that I am on my course.  
Now, everything, that has ever knocked the wind out of me . . . I never saw coming.  The things that robbed me of appetite and sleep . . .well none of them ever happened. 
When peace seems as fleeting as a flock of sparrows, I remind myself of that.  Surely, I am one of Gods’ most fickle servants!   
While I was pleading-or whining, in my prayers, I asked God outright to let me know SOMETHING!  In about three minutes, a small rabbit hopped down the sidewalk and right in the “plum House” yard! 
It was the first time that I had seen a rabbit since, I left Farm Life. I haven’t a clue, what to make of it.  . .if anything . . but it was something.  It seems.  looking back, that many times, my answers are veiled and do not come to light til later on.   Time will tell, as it always does.      


The Little House on Bonnet Street

We are almost settled at the little house on Bonnet Street.  Of course, now it is the holiday season, and even the most established routines are altered in the season. The only way a place starts to feel like home, is  to live in it a while.  It has to rain, and likewise, the sun has to shine til you know where light and shadow falls  and the kitchen has to smell like supper cooking.  Like every other genuine treasure in life, it takes time.  One day you suddenly realise  . . . you are home.  The little house on the corner is starting to feel like home. 
Mama and I went to see sister Connie the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  She was cooking supper for about fifteen people and with ease, she moved from one pot to another without a trace of worry.  Connie is a sensible person and her feathers are not easily ruffled.  She is steadfast and we are all blessed to call her our own.  It was a lovely time on that perfect late autumn day. 
It was a very short work week, with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching.  I spent Wednesday night at Mamas’ to prepare for the gathering on Thursday.  We spent most of the day in kitchen.  Mama cooked sweet potatoes and pies.  I spent a good deal of time on collards.  I made enough biscuits for the biscuit stuffing-and our supper.  I also rummaged through boxes looking for table cloths.  We were both tired that evening and I went to bed, determined to rise early to peel apples! 
All of our efforts paid off, for when the kids arrived, we only had to cream the potatoes and make the gravy.  It was a brisk and bright day and a lot of us ate outside.  “Baby brother cousin”, Ryan and his “sister cousins”  ran around the yard. (This is how they refer to one another)  What a precious sight to behold-and especially while you are eating pie! 
No one left empty handed that day.  Instead we packaged pie, caramel apple dumplings, collards and sister Delores’ broccoli  casserole, fresh eggs and bread from Connie  . . until the kitchen looked like we had never been there! 
The next day, I decorated for Christmas.  I have always waited til December to do so, but I have not decorated for two years.  Daddy was sick one year-then Julie died last year . . .and there was also all those covid restrictions.  Several of my neighbors had decorated before Thanksgiving and that had stirred me to follow suit.  I loved  the cheerful lights and how happy they all were as they toiled.  I laughed at the celebrations when an old strand of lights worked.  Now this little rabbitpatch is adorned with twinkling lights and ribbons.  I cut cedar from a tree in the yard and made several little arrangements.  I like an almost wild and natural look.  I will use apples and oranges in the house- and candles and soft carols to fill the air.  The tree is not up, but I will work on that, shortly.  First, I must make a trip to retrieve it. 
One afternoon, Brant, Jenny and their families stopped by, for they had not seen the house, except for pictures.  Tres and Sarah came too.  They had helped me move and even they were surprised with the  now, cozy little cottage .  We listened to old Christmas songs-which are our favorite ones, ate cookies that Sydney made and watched the most darling little ones play.  That was a happy time for me. 
I have discovered more things about myself as of recently. I thought that I liked simplicity . . .but I embrace it now, more than ever.   In fact, I am more determined than ever to live as simply as I can.  From food to activities-from possessions to products . . .I am on a mission. 
I like  living in a smaller house. It suits me at this particular season of life.  It makes sense financially, certainly, but there is a lot less housekeeping too.  Also, a big house with vacant rooms feels different-lonelier and hollow, at times. 
I do like old houses.  I just can not convince myself, otherwise.  Of course, new windows in an old house would be even better. . .and more electrical outlets.  I am not swayed so easily by modern conveniences but, I like running water and heat .  I also like to work . “Quick  and easy” tastes just like it sounds.  I derive a sort of satisfaction when I work at something-even if I make mistakes!  Just yesterday,  I worked on an arrangement of cedar for quite a while.  I made a garland with a lantern in the middle of it. When I placed it on the table,  I tried to like it . . and at first, I almost did.  I left it to work on a wreath.  When I came back, I couldn’t deny it.  The thing had gone from “bad to worse”.  I took it apart and what a mess that was.  Still, I had enjoyed working on it.  Work makes me think, whether or not,  I am creating something of beauty or fixing something or cleaning.   It all boils down to    no one enjoys a fire more than the one who gathered the wood, I think. 
I love hearing the church bells ring out the hour.  I love bells and chimes . . not whistles -Sometimes though, I hear the train whistle late at night.  That kind of whistle, I do like.  I do not understand how that whistle can sound sorrowful and joyful, at the same time! 
There is so much to love wherever you go . . but I must declare that I miss the countryside.  I miss the big sky and the sweet air.  There, in the country, are a million stars and the  brightest moons for the heavens own every bit of sky. Silvery , misty fields in the evenings and  mornings are golden when you can see the sun rising   There are  just so many shades of light.  Maybe, I will always favor this landscape, but there truly is so much  to love wherever you go.  I would do well to dwell on this truth . 
For now, I live on a quiet street in a friendly neighborhood and everything is just five minutes away.  Old trees line the streets and the moon rises in a window in the sky just above this rabbitpatch.  Traffic is very light and not constant  . . .and when those church bells ring . . . .well, I just love everything about the little house on Bonnet Street!