It was raining Sunday morning, when we woke. I knew snow was a long shot, but I had hoped for it anyway. As the silvery, cold droplets fell, I felt glad that I could linger under my favorite soft blanket, for a bit. At least I did not have to spring up, as I do on a week day. Cash, my dog, and my gray cat Christopher Robin, were snuggled together and what a sweet picture they made. I was happy, that it was Sunday.
I read, as I usually do on Sunday mornings, but not about “Van Gogh”. I read enough yesterday to suit me for a while, on this tender artist. My heart broke with every tragic detail -and there were so many, in his life. I did gather that Van Gogh felt deeply for human suffering and went above and beyond what most of us do, to show it. He believed the purpose of his art was to glorify God. I admired his independent nature, but goodness, how sad he was! I simply can not bear to know anything further, for just now.
I read the “Sermon on the Mount” which is a favorite of mine. I made a pot of soup and since Christian had a friend stop by, who happens to be a chef, I made apple dumplings. This time I made them in a pot, instead of a skillet. I think I like them better, prepared in a pot. “Jose” noted the recipe, as he was going to make it for the head chef.
So the cold silvery rain fell all day and Sunday passed gently by.
As I drove to work on Monday morning, I took notice of the day. The countryside looked so very muted, in colors like gray, and shades of brown. Even the sky was a dull pewter . I thought, that some folks would call this a dismal scene. . . but I like most kinds of days. I do understand how dreary weather can feel like an unfriendly guest, for it seems something tragic may happen, under such circumstances, that could not occur on a bright happy day in June. This is hardly true, but it does feel like it could be . I really miss the comfort of home on such days.
I am quite sure, this all started in childhood, growing up on a farm. When the weather was bad, we all stuck around the house. We often made a cake and the adults had time to tell us stories. If we needed rain, then everyone was in high spirits . Weather was of huge consequence in those days.
The wind was acting more sensible, but Monday was every bit as cold as Sunday. Some people declared they had seen snow flurries, but I kept my eyes peeled to the sky and never saw anything but some tiny ice pellets, for a brief spell. I have seen stunning pictures from friends up north. What a wonder snow is, covering every sin, a landscape could have . . and what a hearty lot it takes to live where snow accumulation must be measured in feet. I simply can not imagine shoveling a driveway on a regular basis before going to work. Those folks are a hearty and gallant lot -and nothing less.
Snow may be scarce here, but frost is not. Lately the countryside is sparkling in the early morning. “Brother Earl” , a neighbor has a fire going most every morning. Smoke rises in curls and tinges the air with the familiar scent of burning wood. The sun rises over the treeline transforming the bare branches to ebony lace and the frost becomes all sorts of shades of orange, pink, peach and apricot. This morning an icy luster even topped the trees and so the day started with quite a spectacular display of nature in winter.
I drive past the very quiet pastures and the resting fields to work and then back home. Occasionally, I stop at the grocery. Somehow my dog and cat, know exactly what time, I will arrive at the rabbitpatch, for they are always waiting by the door. I usually start a load of laundry, then start supper and at the first chance, change into “house clothes”. I prepare for the next day within an hour of walking in the door, for I can not think of such things as sweaters and earrings, in the morning.
I read while supper cooks. There is little variation in my routine. One day turns in to another and in this way, the week passes. Unless there is an emergency, I am home at night. I am quite content to spend evenings at home. . . and it is not just because I am older. I have never enjoyed a ruckus of any sort.
A cold wind blew and now suddenly, it is winter. I know winter arrived officially weeks ago, but it was the north wind that convinced me. Until, a few short days ago, my heavy coat was in the back of the closet. I had the window up for several days. There was no need to warm the car up, in the mornings and some days, the mockingbird sang.
What a difference the north wind made, for now we burrow under soft blankets and there is but one brave little rose, in the “Quiet Garden” and I suspect it is spent, after last night. Winter may rob the rose of its’ bloom, but a winter morning has its’ own form of spectacular. The countryside is silent and void of any motion, save folks bringing in more wood. A few little wrens played just outside the window this morning . What a happy commotion ensued for a brief while. For some reason, the birds left and took their merriment with them and again the world was quiet.
I am not sure why, but the country birds rarely frequent feeders, at the rabbitpatch. The only exception, is the event of snow, which is rare in itself. I think it may be the fact, that the woods are so plentiful here, and so the wild birds may prefer the natural diet, the woodlands offer. You would think an apple core would entice them or the wild birdseed, but that isn’t the case. Maybe they joyfully, scavenge for the last of the wild mulberries. I do not know what the mockingbird does after he sings, but sightings of him are scarce too.
I suppose, I have something in common with the birds, for winter makes me grow quiet and still too. No other season affords this as winter, for each one presents its’ own tasks, that must be tended too . . .at once. In the winter, I study whatever subjects pop in my head. This year, so far I have studied “Secretariat” which led to horses, in general. I am far from finishing my study, but I have also studied the quotes of “Bruce Lee” after reading about his life. Some of his quotes are as deep as the ocean and require much thought. Now today, I have begun studying “Van Gogh”. Already, he has tendered my heart.
The thorough, studies in winter are an old habit, of mine. I have an odd collection of subjects by now, but they have sparked my curiosity to learn more and it as least one practice, that has never caused me a bit of harm.
I also continue to dabble in concoctions of various sorts. I have had great success, so far with a few cleaning agents and cream for dry skin -(and old) . Since Christian injured his hand, I have studied more about the natural healing properties of things like honey -and it is good to report that the awful wound is healthy and on the mend. If there is even a scar, it will be slight.
A lot of folks are decluttering now. Mama , my sister Delores and Jenny are all on the same mission. I did this now almost two years ago. Of course my project was very necessary as I was downsizing to a much smaller home. I am still in the same big farmhouse, and I still have plans to downsize, but in the meanwhile, I have maintained my diligence in the matter. Of course, the method all started with a book. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Now there is a show as well. Though I have been preaching about it, for several years, it was the show that struck a chord with Jenny. According to Kondo, we are to ask ourselves, which possessions “spark our joy”. We are to discard, those that do not. Apparently, Jenny did this as she was cleaning out, for three year old, Lyla, told her last night, that she wanted to get rid of the dress she was wearing as “it did not spark joy . . and it itched!”
The light never changed all day on this Saturday. It could have been anytime, all day long. It also stayed cold. Folks a few hours north of us are getting snow. I hope Lyla gets snow, for she has been looking for it since Christmas. Jenny does have a birthday next week end – and it has snowed on her birthday, several times. There is also the “super moon”, (which I plan to wish on) arriving as well.
Twilight fell all of a sudden, I noticed. I went out, but the stars were like well kept secrets tonight. Oddly, I felt lonely for them. The veil of darkness felt thick and the night was so very still. Only in months like January, can a night seem so deep and absolute.
The darkness, seemed to separate me from everything and everyone familiar. Without Cash, who was sleeping inside, and without a light, I did not venture far, for the farmhouse looked extra cozy, on this night. . . .and the lamp shone through the window, by the beloved “morning table”, beckoning to me , like an old friend. and besides – the cold darkness did seem “full of lies” and it did not “spark my joy” . . after all.
The first Sunday of the New Year dawned bright and clear. I love Sunday mornings-I am never as inspired or as reflective on any other day. Maybe, “There is something about a Sunday”, after all.
Christian and I had coffee together . . .and a heart warming conversation. Christian has never been one to chatter, even in his childhood. In a crowd, he mostly listens. No one has ever accused him of being loud or overbearing. It is not his nature. He has never been impulsive, but instead seem to digest information. He is fiercely independent and anything shallow and worldly, is uninteresting to him. Under such circumstances, Christian is one of my favorite people to converse with.
After the “grand finale” of last year, with Daddys’ health scare and losing the much awaited sell of the rabbitpatch, car repairs at Christmas ( which seems a trend for us) . . .well, against the odds, I told Christian that I felt very optimistic about our future. Christian said he too, had been feeling the same way. Then we had a deep conversation about the last few years and how every part of the past, which seemed to halt our progress, was actually pushing us on in our pursuits. I realised that , little by little, my heart had changed, and it seemed to happen while I was unaware! Christian believes that each act was needed for us and was never against us, as it really seemed some times. How beautiful and moving, I thought. I asked Christian, when did he know for sure, that we ought to sell the rabbitpatch for sure . . .He said “the day, that I walked in the sunroom and water was pouring in.” I laughed til I cried. Christian is funny, too.
It is the time of “Old Christmas”, now. It is hardly celebrated, at all these days and what a shame, I think. I always think I will pick up, where Miss Sylvia left off, but haven’t yet. Miss Sylvia was a dear friend and neighbor, who hosted an “Old Christmas” party every year. We all left our decorations up, until after the party. Now, without Miss Sylvia, Farm Life was quiet on the night of “Old Christmas” – and it made me miss her all over again.
I vaguely remember this holiday, as a child. “Old Christmas ” parties have dainty foods and children receive small tokens to commemorate when the wise men visited the Christ child. Next year, I hope to “practice what I preach” and host a small gathering. I will use fancy dishes and serve tiny pimento cheese sandwiches , and Martha Washington candy and all the other “old fashioned” delicacies, that I grew up with . . .and in this way, I will tell the story of “Old Christmas” .
Monday came along and that changed everything. I did see the sun rise and it bathed the quiet pastures and fields in glory. When I behold such remarkable beauty, I feel like I have been gifted. My perspective shifts and worldly cares are “put in their place” . The handiwork of the “Master” has always done so, for me. Even as a very small child, I had a young walnut tree that I would confide in, on a regular basis. No one taught me such a practice and I didn’t know of anyone else, who did such a thing.
In my teenage years, I took to long ramblings in the woods. It was not always because I was feeling sullen or rebellious for I rarely was. The woods that had been my playground, still comforted me and inspired me. It was like “going home” when I walked ,where I used to run. Life was changing, as it does on the eve of adulthood and though I was having a fabulous time, I longed for things that remained as they were. Unlike people, trees are constant and not given to whims, nor guided by moods.
In my childhood, my cousins and I would spend many winter days in the woods, disturbing the peace of the pines. Often we had several ponies with us and a dog or two. We stumbled on an old steel once, another time a school bus and old houses. To say we were a bit uncivilized, would not be a far stretch . . .but we were happy and though we were scratched by briers and wore our clothes out, we thrived in the freedom. We knew when we smelled supper cooking, that the shadows would soon fall and we knew exactly where, too.
I did not stop my ramblings upon adulthood, but instead took my children to the woods regularly. We walked most winter days and spent many happy hours together. Winter is the best time to “stop by the woods” for poison vines, snakes and biting insects have abandoned their warm weather posts. We walked for miles and for a little while, we were the only ones in the world.
The children, hardly remember the many vacations we took, . . . but they all remember walking back to the house, from the woods, by the light of the moon. . . . . . . .and I remember, too.
Somehow, school started back with its’ routine – and somehow I did it all again. After a long break, I am always convinced that I will be late and then, stumble through the day in a haze. It never happens. Everything falls into place and I adapt quite naturally.
The winter days have been born in mist just heavy enough to warrant the wipers every few miles. The silvery shadows make the fields look like hallowed ground . . .which is fitting, to me. I have always thought of fields as holy. They feed us, and clothe us and time spent around a field, even in months like January, is likely to “cure whatever is ailing” you. Fields are like loving guardians for all of mankind and we do not need one field less, if you ask me.
I have talked to a field on more than one occasion. When I was battling something, a field gave me hope. If I was complaining, a field hushed me. Fields have heard prayers uttered in dark moments and words sung when joy could not be spoken . . . and not one field has ever betrayed any secret. When the day comes, that a sidewalk runs in front of my house, I suspect, I will on occasion, seek the solace of a field.
Now it has rained every day for a solid week, for the mist turns to drops regularly. It has not been much more than chilly enough for a light sweater. I have no idea what is going on in the rest of the world, as I have been avoiding the latest news broadcasts for a while, but I do know that here, it feels like April.
With the holidays, now behind us, life has thankfully, resumed to a much more manageable pace. Now there is time to write and to read, and being housebound so much, for tending to the housekeeping chores. It is the time to slow cook roasts and to make creamy chowders. Few things afford as much pleasure as the smell of the kitchen in winter. I have big plans tomorrow to make apple dumplings. I have never had them, let alone attempted to make them. The recipe calls for a homemade pastry, brown sugar and butter as well as apples. It sounds like a heavenly combination and I do hope not to scorch it with my impatience to try it.
Daddy has been “holding his own” these days. He has recovered from his surgery -and the hospital stay, as well. Daddys’ side of the family is known to be an independent lot-those that marry in to the family, call it being “hard headed”. We are, I suppose, that determined. This makes us accept challenges, do things our own way and we do not bow or give in one iota, about things that do not make sense. We make our own decisions, and are not easily swayed due to the need to be popular or even traditional. Of course, this trait can exhaust our loved ones, at times. We are likely to call one another hard headed too, if so inclined. Daddy is as hard headed as any of us. But, being “hard headed”, meant a poor, little country boy, rose up from the dirt like a “Phoenix.” Armed with determination, Daddy has excelled at most everything he has ever attempted. Now, especially, that strong “Warren” gene is coming in mighty handy, again.
Mama, is to be commended too, as she does whatever is necessary for his well being, whether it is assistance in a task, preparing foods he will eat or tending to his medicine. About every hour, she says “drink water”. . . and she has tolerated the “Warren” gene for more than sixty years.
On Saturday morning, the sun rose with a bit of fanfare. Golden light seemed to crack the sky open and then there was the sun, bright and the color of a tangerine, rising over the oldest barn. There was wind too and since the wind only rattled the old oaks and made the pines whisper, I welcomed it, for wind takes care of the standing water .
I read for a while, after the “early service”. I finally started a book, a friend recommended, Cathy, who writes like a poet, and tends a garden. It is “Elizabeth and Her German Garden”. In the beginning, Elizabeth describes her garden with great detail, not only the flowers but how she feels in her garden. She has modern ideas about the planting and a gardener, that she must convince, to plant as she directs. This morning, Elizabeth has finally left her garden, for something besides going to bed. It is the perfect book for January, I think.
Maybe one of the things that I love about winter, is that it affords me the chance to do some of the things I love. I love to write, naturally. I have journals – one for Lyla and one for Brynn. I have a personal journey for my “all grown up” children. A dear friend, Beverly, gave me the gumption to start a prayer journal, as well. Of course, there is my beloved Rabbitptch Diary, too.
I also love to read well written books, which largely means books written before now. There are exceptions to that, but rarely are modern novels appealing to me. I do love to research and will tackle all sorts of random subjects, hence I am still reading about “Secretariat” . I am just in awe of the synchronicity of the people that came together to raise this horse, and their circumstances. I have also read a bit about “Bruce Lee” and “Eleanor Roosevelt”, this week.
Then, there are recipes, which is how I was led to try the apple dumplings. There is also the medicinal properties of herbs, which I find a fascinating subject. Now turmeric and ginger and cinnamon are all a steady part of my cooking.
My friend Faye, will be glad to know that I am also on a band wagon about essential oils. I really always have been. When I adopted my Kyle, from Colombia, now almost thirty years ago, lavender and chamomile were used in his bath water. These days I am using them in home made household cleaning products. I have been making my own face cream, toothpaste and deodorant for months. . . and my medicine cabinet sure looks different than most – so I am never short on new things to learn. . .however months like June, do not afford me the luxury of such exploration that January does, for the grass and wild vines grow in June.
Of course in January, I become homesick, for my children. Now, we are scattered tending to things like making money. I have no clue what my sons are eating for supper but I think it is safe to say, it is not such things as, rutabagas. I miss their banter with one another and watching them with Lyla and Brynn. I miss seeing Jenny being a “second mother” to them. I hope they are all taking their elderberry and saying their prayers . . It feels sometimes like the calendar, acts like a great divide that runs between us and between now and the next holiday. Well, I just miss everybody. . . and most especially in January.
The eve of the new year dawned quietly. The sky simply became a silvery blue. Nature, that does not keep an account of time, as man does, did not give mention that this day was any different than yesterday. Nature just goes about its’ business.
In many homes, folks are decorating and fixing fancy foods. Guests are expected and the midnight hour is highly anticipated. None of that happens at the rabbitpatch. New Years’ Eve is a quiet, reflective time for me. I am likely to re examine the past year, by thinking of all the blessings it yielded. I will consider my actions in the face of challenges and hope to do better next time. I will also do laundry and carry the trash out.
I do not make specific resolutions about things like a better diet or exercise. Far be it from me, to join a gym or give up bacon. I lack the fortitude, for such things. I wish I could start a savings account, but the truth is, I have lived on a shoe-string budget , most of my life and unless something changes, I will in the new year, as well. Even in my youth, I shied away from resolutions. I see them as promises and I felt awful when I broke a promise even to myself. . . so now, in my “late afternoon” years, I tread cautiously, when it comes to making resolutions.
Rest assured, as I review the past calendar year, I do not come up empty handed. I see much room for improvement. I take in to great consideration, what things gave me joy, in the long run. These are the things, I want to increase. What things resulted in satisfaction ? -these things I want to increase, too. I must also take in to account what caused me sorrow and what to with that. I suppose, in short, I am really thinking about the quality of my contributions to myself and others. That is a lot to think about. It would be much easier to just join a gym.
Some things went ever so well, last year. I adopted several habits that lessened my impact on the planet. At long last, I now use reusable bags for shopping. I use shampoo bars, instead of those packaged in plastic. I use bamboo straws, in summary, I try to avoid plastic altogether.
I started living as minimally . That was a pleasant surprise, for I really had no such noble intention. I had big plans to move. In doing so, I decluttered as I packed. I thought long and hard about what would really go with me. What did I need?-and what did I care for? I could not believe how much went out of the old farmhouse. I had a good size truck load or two to donate and at least one load of trash, for “moth and rust doth corrupt’. I felt like a burden had been lifted . . .and I still do. It goes without saying, that I strive to not be wasteful.
And now, I have run out of commendable things. How quickly that went!
The account of things hoped for is much more lengthy. I really hope to be full of mercy this year. Oh, that I would never hold a single thing against anybody. When I am tempted, I must remember myself, first and not dare to pick up a stone. Next, I must remind myself that I know nothing about anyone elses’ journey, really. Poor behavior, I think most always derives from fear-fear of not having enough, or being loved or powerful enough and so on. How can I fault anyone, hindered by fear, when fear has been no stranger to me?
Certainly I want to be more generous and certainly, I need to pray more. I want to love more -and dream bigger. I want to live my own truth, wholeheartedly, short comings and all. This may be the grandest quest of all, and I seriously wonder if this may not also be the grandest gift we ever give. . . to ourselves . . .and to God.
No doubt, I will need all 365 days to begin anew, every dawn and every twilight -and each day . . to hope, again . . . for better. Mankind can keep a record of years and days – and the hours that are the substance, of them . . .but it is of little consequence . . .for a new year begins every day, and thankfully so.
Chances are, that fireworks will ring out in the countryside tonight. The years that I have been awake, I have watched them in two different directions. They always set the dogs to barking. I have never known of a dog yet, that liked fireworks.
So far, today is an ordinary day . . . of course, it is only mid morning. It has been weeks since, a day went along as it usually does, without an agenda-or a single plan. There is always housekeeping, with its’ familiar tasks. I do want to paint a table, that got moved yesterday . . .and I do want to start my book, for that never happened, though I have had it a month. Otherwise, it could just be a beautiful ordinary day.
A light rain is falling, as the forecast predicted. It is warm enough outside, that I have a window up. It is the kind of rain, for children to play in, or young romantics to walk in. An old lady could make use of it too, if she had bought those rain boots. Instead I will listen to it fall like a soothing melody from a silvery sky and remember my grandmother saying, “I love you like rain.”
Housekeeping today included all sorts of chores. The house was orderly, to start with, but the laundry room could sure stand a “going over”. I scrubbed the floor where a sofa once was and of course Cash tracked through it immediately. He never fails to do so. I cleaned out my pocketbook. I love order, but fail miserably with a pocketbook. Large or small, they somehow stay laden with receipts and coins and rosin and all sorts of odd things. I found a key, but have no clue what it goes too. I tossed out the old pocket calendar, for the new one, Mama gave me. For some reason, that felt good. It was full of deadlines and legal notes, that ended up meaning nothing. All of that is at least behind me.
I feel like I have been through a “crash course” of sorts, these last few months. Lessons learned the hard way are my least favorite kind. It was as I have said before, “first one thing and then another”, and each thing, frightfully on the heels of the one before it. There was no use in crumbling under the heaping mess, for first of all, that wouldn’t do one iota of good and besides, I owed it to my children to show them how to stand on fractured soil. Now, that it is an ordinary day, I can at last see the dust settling and feel almost, unscathed by the botched business of selling the house with the rambling grounds. It is not because I am saintly, but instead, because the burden was heavy and made me weary . . .and so I tired of it. I sorted out my thoughts like I was cleaning out a junk drawer I discarded what no longer worked or was needed. In doing so, I received my “second wind”.
It rained all day, so that I kept a lamp on. I actually packed up some pictures, . . . proof that my gumption was restored. There was not a bit of hurry in me today, as I went about my work. There didn’t seem to be a bit of hurry in anybody, for the countryside was still and lacked even the slightest motion. . .and the landscape , muted now, in late December, would have made a beautiful, but somber painting.
On Saturday, for the first time, in a long spell, the sun came up boldly, proclaiming the day. It seems it has been weeks since the light was bright enough to cast a shadow. Even the mockingbird, was glad and sang. The morning was mild, so my window went up again.
Today, I will hopefully, finish painting the floor. I never intended for that to happen. It all started when we rearranged the furniture. The paint was scant in some areas of the old hardwood, I noticed as I scrubbed the floor. All it needed was a “touch up”. I surmised, but I soon realised, it needed more than that. That is always the case, it seems, with any project, that I have ever started. Even planting a rose bush, has the same conditions, for I will want to add a layer of mulch, and then , I decide, a birdbath beside it, would be nice and on and on I go, til it took all afternoon to plant a single bush. That is a summary of how all of the years here passed.
I was finished with the floor by noon. Since I had the paint out, I decided to paint the “morning table” too. The humble, ” morning table” is like an old friend to me. I rarely attach sentimental attachment to furniture, but the morning table, where I write and sit my cup, will make the future move to the next rabbitpatch. Likewise, the “Christmas closet” will too, and the bed, that all my children have slept in -and a dresser, that my late husband, Jamie restored for me. I will also take an old pie safe and a cupboard, that belonged to my dear friend, Julies’ grandmother. I suppose I will take the piano too. I had decided against that, but when Christian plays his songs, beautifully enough to make an angel cry, I know full well, it must come too. . . .whenever that time shall be.
When the table was painted and almost dry, I decided to sort through the bin under the kitchen sink. That led me to mixing up solutions that remove stains, deodorize pet beds and sofas, and room spray . The concoctions are free of toxins, have wonderful fragrance and are economical. Most importantly, they work . . .and I would rather spend my money on hyacinths in May, after all.
In the twilight hours, I read. . . just for pleasure, about Secretariat, the champion of horses. I had seen a documentary and I clearly remembered watching history being made when Secretariat was in his prime. I was just a young girl, then and so, it was a long time ago, but I have never forgotten the excitement of watching this horse literally leave the others “in the dust” and winning the “Triple Crown”, by what seemed a “country mile”.
When Secretariat died, the usual procedure, was to perform an autopsy of sorts, though his death was no mystery. It turns out , that this horse had an unusually large heart. Much larger than the average. Oddly, Secretariats groom, had always declared, that Secretariat “had more heart” than other horses. The high school drop out, had noticed it right off. He was there at the birth, and this foal had stood, at just 45 minutes old. Though, Secretariats’ owner had lost a coin toss, and therefore ended up with the “lesser” colt, the groom knew better.
I was glad I had somehow, decided to explore this random piece of history, for it inspired me in many ways. I thought about how sometimes we feel, like we have “lost a coin toss” only to learn later . . . that we had really won the prize intended. I thought about wisdom, thankfully, not reserved what the world considers, the “privileged” and of course, I thought about having a heart – big enough, to “win” our own races, even if the odds do not seem favorable.
“Ordinary” days needn’t be dull. They may lack glamour and hold not a trace of excitement. They may hold a good deal of solitude and mundane tasks. But in solitude, we can consider greatness and if we do our best work, the most lowly of tasks can still give us a sense of satisfaction. A life is composed of all sorts of days . . . .and if our heart is big enough . . . we can love them all. . . and we might just get a “second wind”.
The rabbitpatch was quiet on Christmas morning. Christian had to work an early shift, Will and Jenny were home with the children, of course . . well everybody was somewhere else. Our family gathers at my parents on Christmas night, so naturally, I had some things to do to prepare.
I did not mind the solitude, even if it was Christmas. Long gone are the days of my own childrens’ childhood. Now, one is married, with her own little ones . Years pass and things are bound to change. That is what you can truly count on . . .change. There are new joys now and new ways to make memories . We must adapt or else we are likely to feel gloomy yearning for what once was.
I thought of such things on my “Silent Morning” . I had not been to a true “early service” in a while and I had missed it. The sun broke the darkness up and seemed to say “Joy to the World”, in doing so. I was sure the trees knew it was Christmas and the wild creatures in the woods. Only things made by man would be so dull, so as not to know, I thought. After I thought about a good deal of things more, I began peeling apples for a pie.
Thankfully, “The Bishops’ Wife” was on, and so I watched that as I worked, It is a delightful film, without a bit of tragedy, and was quite suitable for Christmas morning. At intervals, I would remember a tag to be placed or a gift to add to my collection and I would abandon the apples. Mama and I tied up a good many loose ends on the phone. She needed bags and I needed an envelope and so on.
I thought about Mary and Joseph. The birth of the first child is always a happy but overwhelming event. What must they have felt? I can not imagine being talked to by angels about the child, I was carrying, and then some strangers rush in as the babe lay sleeping, to tell you there was a “Heavenly birth announcement! Mary had a lot to “ponder”. . .so did Joseph. Goodness, I remember when the school wanted to see me, to tell me that my Tres had an extremely high IQ. It scared me senseless! How in the world would I raise this child? I felt feeble minded and lacking right off. I hoped chasing little goats and climbing trees, building forts and finding rocks, would somehow be enough. As it turns out, it was. So my thoughts rambled on Christmas morning til the pie was done and the Bishop stopped thinking about a cathedral, and turned his thoughts to his family.
Jenny called and told me the details of their morning. Lyla was pleasantly surprised that Santa came. I think she realised, that the tale of Santa, was really too good to be true, but she went along with it, just in case. Jenny said Lyla was as concerned that little Brynn had gifts, as she was for herself. Jenny threw some things together for her infant, quickly and happened to find Lyla not looking as she did so. Lyla was delighted for Brynn. One of the things that I am really content about is Lylas’ unselfish love for her sister. She has never spoken a word against her, nor been jealous. I think Lyla was relieved too, that those nosy elves were long gone, for she asked Jenny about them. Lyla had said earlier that she did not think “elves should be flying around childrens’ houses.”
Christian was home by mid afternoon and Kyle came about the same time. The sun was setting, as we drove to my parents. We had all decided to keep Christmas more simple this year. We drew names, for the first time ever and shaved the menu. Still, our car was loaded and I kept fearing, I had forgotten something, as we rode along. The sky was beautiful and I saw a photographer in a field capturing the beauty. It did my heart good, to know he appreciated the majesty of the evening and braved the cold to prove it. I thought someone should take his picture, while he worked.
The boys unloaded the car and Mama and I made a mad dash to stuff the envelope and find the right bags, for her gifts. It was a secret work and we talked in whispers . . .and hurriedly. Lyla ran in saying “Merry Christmas!” and Brynn was fussed over. It was her first Christmas, after all. We ate til we were full, and still did not make a dent in the food. My apple pie did not even get cut, for Connie stole the show with her pies. Her chocolate chess was the best I had ever eaten. I will say, that my cheddar, garlic biscuits remained a hit-and Delores made the oreo truffles that are always a favorite. Mama cooked a ham and Daddy made a pot of beans and there was too much more to mention. Maybe one day, I will write our Christmas Cookbook, for future generations, I thought.
We opened our gifts, and then played music. Brant and I played violins and Christian played his guitar. Jenny forgot Lylas’ violin and Dana forgot hers, when she went to retrieve a gift. Lyla found a drum and so some of her sorrow was lifted. After the concert, we began the task of packaging the food to be sent with willing guests and putting the extra chairs away. There was trash to be taken out , counters and floors . . .and no one was spared a duty.
On Christmas night, back at the rabbitpatch, I donned a new soft sweatshirt for bed and used a rose lotion, I had been gifted. I saw that Mama and Daddy had really put too much in that little envelope. I looked at a calendar, Connie had made of our family pictures. I held a little figurine of a boxer , that Dana had painted with every marking my Cash bears. Hayley used her new camera to record our moments and Brandon, had grown a lot. There were so many tender moments -Tres talking to my dad and all wanting to hold Brynn. Delores had surprised me with handmade matching aprons for Lyla and I and a bib for Brynn. The fabric had honeybees all over it and I was quite impressed. Delores confessed she was sewing the last stitches just before the gathering. I doubt I will ever wear it, that I do not think of that.
Daddy had an appointment, the day after Christmas. It was just a follow up from his recent surgery and all was well. All of my sons were spending the night at the rabbitpatch, so that was the icing on the “Christmas cake”, for me. I cooked a big supper and hummed the whole time. Even Cash and Christopher Robin were so happy, for Cash danced around and Christopher Robin purred. The boys stayed up late, watching some game and so , I suspected, the big breakfast, I had planned would certainly be a brunch. I can not complain one bit. If it were up to me, I would have them stay a month -or forever.
The next day after Christmas , I awoke with a smile. I do not know why, and can not explain it, but there is something so beautiful when the children sleep under my roof. At least this time, I had my sons. (Will and Jenny are visiting with Wills’ dad and grandmother.) We did have brunch, as I had predicted, which worked out well, as Christian had to work that blessed early shift again. He came home just in time, so the kitchen table was full, as I like it best. After we ate, the boys had a big discussion about how to address the repairs needed at the old farmhouse. Then they rearranged some furniture for me . Before I knew it, they had to go. Now, it seemed like Christmas was over.
Though the holiday, itself has passed, we needn’t pack the wonder of it all away with the ornaments and ribbons. Let us remember how it felt to give . . .and to receive, for there is an art to both. Not all gifts are manufactured, nor must they be wrapped in pretty paper. . . and gathering should not be reserved for just days recognized as holidays. . . . Things like generosity and goodwill can be practiced just as deftly, when the mimosa blooms. We ought to love as we do at Christmas, always.