Sunday, December 16, 2018

Day 16. Waiting. Listening.


Here is a favourite Christmas carol...

with Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma

Advent is an expectant season. We wait poised for what Frederick Buechner names “the extraordinary moment.” He utilizes the image of an orchestra conductor waiting... waiting until he has the full attention of the orchestra, the full attention of the audience. It's that exact moment just before the music begins.
“The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton. In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart . . . The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.”
~ Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark


“I shall attend to my little errands of love early this year,
So that the brief days before Christmas may be unhampered and clear

of the fever of hurry. The breathless rushing I have known in the past
shall not possess me. I shall be calm in my soul and ready at last

for Christmas. I shall have leisure — I shall go out alone from my roof and my door;
I shall not miss the silver silence of stars as I have before.

And oh, perhaps ... if I stand there very still ... and very long
I shall hear what the clamor of living has kept from me — The Angels' Song!”

~ Grace Noll Crowell
"Leisure," Poems of Inspiration and Courage (1928)

* * *

Wishing you peace on this third Sunday of Advent

With love,

If you are receiving this post by email, I'd love to hear from you. You can click on Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life here or on the link below, and it will take you directly to my blog. You are welcome to leave a comment there, or if the comment box is being unfriendly, you can get in touch by email.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Day 15. Christmas Tree Outing

As was mentioned in our previous post, we went to get our Christmas tree from the Fir Ever Green Tree Farm yesterday. Our drive out into the countryside was lovely. There is nothing like watching snow covered fields and sunlight glinting through the tall trees to create a sense of restfulness and ease of spirit. Even though we went in the early afternoon, the sun already lay low on the horizon, reminding me that this is one of my favourite times of the year. 

"Despite all I have seen and experienced,
I still get the same simple thrill out of glimpsing a tiny patch of snow."

~ Edmund Hillary

"O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches..."

"Smell is the mute sense,
the one without words."

~ Diane Ackerman
A Natural History of the Senses

Measuring in at seven feet tall, it was perfect in our eyes. I wish, I wish, I could have bottled the fragrance of this pretty little spruce so you could smell it too. Every branch, every needle exuded its winsome perfume. Hubby and I both agreed that that was the smell of Christmas.

Do you remember the 1947 movie The Bishop's Wife, with Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven? Do you recall the scene where the Bishop's wife goes to the green grocers to order a Christmas tree and happens to meet up with her friend, the Professor, while there. The Professor had his 'annual' argument with the shopkeeper about how much he should pay for the Christmas tree, and finally the shopkeeper counts up all the branches and charges him by the branch. I was kinda glad we didn't have to count how many branches were on this tree -- there seemed quite a few.

Now I'm in the mood to watch the movie, as I haven't yet this year. Have you done so already? 


Even though the day was mild, it was lovely to catch the warmth of this little fire burning near the chalet. The wagon with its load of wood, the owner proceeded to tell us, was around 150 years old. It came from the 'old country' where he grew up -- Switzerland. You will note that the original wooden wheel had been replaced with a modern one. I think he said the wooden one had worn out. 

 *!*!* Two happy campers *!*!*

The tree has been in our garage guzzling buckets of water today. Tomorrow we bring her inside and set her up. We're still deciding which corner she'll preside over the soon coming Christmas doings.

* * *

We've been to visit my mom today. She served tea and Christmas baking. We had a lovely visit. That's why I'm a little late on getting this post up today. I hope you've had a wonderful day. I now wish you a pleasant evening and a sweet sleep.


If you are receiving this post by email, I'd love to hear from you. You can click on Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life here or on the link below, and it will take you directly to my blog. You are welcome to leave a comment there, or if the comment box is being unfriendly, you can contact me directly by email.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Day 14. O Christmas Tree


"... freshly cut Christmas trees smelling
of stars and snow and pine resin -- inhale deeply
and fill your soul with wintry night ...”

~ John Geddes, A Familiar Rain 

I felt a sense of adventure when I woke early this morning. Hubby and I are going to get our Christmas tree this afternoon. Because we live in the city, if we're getting a real tree for Christmas, we usually buy one from the temporary tree lots or grocers. But Hubby declared he wanted a tree that was really fresh, that hadn't been cut two months ago -- he wanted the true fresh fragrance wafting through the house like when he was a kid. I was secretly thrilled. Me too! Can almost smell it -- all earthy, piney, and oh so pungent with its sap fresh and sticky.

We'll head out into the countryside to a local family-owned tree farm where they offer landscaping trees in summer and u-cut evergreens in December. I think Rick is excited about bringing along his saw for this somewhat woodsy adventure. I wish we had a couple of those red lumberjack shirts for photo-ops -- you bet, I'm not leaving home without my camera.


Just thinking about it makes so many childhood memories float up. I can remember coming home from school, just days before Christmas, to find the freshly hewed spruce tree propped near the back step. Oh goody, Dad had been out. There it sat waiting, just like us, for the big day. If we weren't already antsy with excitement, well, it just made the anticipation soar off the charts. We begged Mom to let us bring it in. But she always wanted to wait as long as possible, to keep the needles fresh. I could hardly stand it for joy -- it felt like the top of my head would blow off.

"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.
In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.

~ Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

It's true, when you are five or six or seven, every tree seems thirty feet tall, but in truth, looking at some old family photos, our trees weren't those towering specimens at all. All green and prickly, smelling of pungent spruce resin -- I didn't like how my fingers stuck together when drops got on my hands -- they were sometimes a little scraggly, somewhat sparse on branches, even a bit crooked, but in our eyes they were practically perfect.

The day finally arrived, usually December 20th or 21st, when Mom would give the okay. Dad would drag the frozen tree into the porch where it thawed out, the snow on its branches melting into puddles on the floor. Which meant that the next day when we got home from school, it would be proudly sitting in its wooden stand. A prince of a tree in its honoured place in the corner of the living room, where Dad had secured it with clear fishing line to the door jam -- cats and kids being prone to examining tree branches rather closely.

"You can tell a lot about a person by the way
they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage,
and tangled Christmas tree lights.

~ Maya Angelou


When we were old enough, we kids would haul down the decoration boxes from the upstairs crawl space. First, there came the task of untangling tree lights -- not a job for the kids, thankfully. I felt too impatient for that slow process. It was the pretty ornaments nestled in their boxes with the cellophane windows in the lids that I waited for.

Chains made from coloured construction paper and tinsel garlands were added. Placing the ornaments was a very studied business as we pondered which branch they should go on for the best effect. Delicate glass balls would hang alongside the proud display of glittering handmade Christmas cards done in school art class. The very last thing to go up was the tinsel, we being firmly instructed not to throw clumps of tinsel on the branches, but to carefully drape it strand by strand until the tree became a glimmering tower of awesomeness.

At last came the moment when the overhead lights were turned off, a record would be set to spin out carols, and we'd all stand back in awe of our handiwork. It was beautiful, all lit up and sparkling. And with that, we were ready for Christmas. Life couldn't feel any more perfect than in that moment. With so much to still look forward to and so few cares of the world intruding on our little family, at least for a few days, we felt safe and happy as we snuggled against the storms of winter and life.

Here's a YouTube link to

by Classical vocal ensemble VOCES8

circa 1964, Little Sis and Me

* * *

It's getting closer. The anticipation is rising.
Here's wishing you a beautiful day.


If you are receiving this post by email, I'd love to hear from you. You can click on Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life here or on the link below, and it will take you directly to my blog. You are welcome to leave a comment there, or if the comment box is being unfriendly, you can get in touch by email.