"I get up very early in the morning.
I enjoy the quietness, the stillness,
the rawness in the winter . . . It's a special time."
Well here it is, the first official day of winter, and it's just four more sleeps until Christmas. I woke early to find moonbeams streaming into our bedroom. The ghostly globe hung high in the western sky. Ohhh, it's too splendid for words. Peering out, it looked cold and crisp and clear. I love when the moon is full around Christmastime. That's a magical moment all by itself. I mean, it's so much easier to spot a sleigh, don't you think? Or the glimmer of a Christmas Star that hung in a certain place so very long ago.
The generous snowfall we got the other day has made our neighbourhood picture postcard ready for the holidays. I love these last few days leading up to Christmas, when preparations for the main part are done. The whisper of wonderment seems to float from the air straight into our souls. And one doesn't have to be a child to feel it either. I never quite know what will trigger the wonderful, cozy feeling but I know the moment it arrives - from the tingles in my fingertips or along the back of my neck; a warmth spreads over me like a comforting blanket. It could come on the breathy high note of a favourite carol; it could be the peacefulness that settles as I watch tree lights reflecting in the window.
"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." Yes, Norman Vincent Peale, you capture that feeling perfectly.
I used to try and create the Christmas feeling by following certain routines and traditions, and although it helped, sometimes it didn't work at all. The harder I tried, the more it hid. I eventually learned not to mess with trying to invoke the 'Christmas spirit'—it comes and goes at will, and who am I to mess with it. But, in all my years, I've never not known it to show up, even during a year that was 'horribilus' for my family when illness and death filled our December. Yes, even that year in the midst of pain and loss, the wonder and awe of Christmas and the Christ Child came to comfort. For it's bigger than we are.
I think of something I saw on Facebook—I don't know who created the graphic or the lovely artwork but the words are attributed to Auschwitz survivor Corrie ten Boom: "I promise you that joy runs deeper than despair." Thank heavens her testimonial remains to this day—she of all people would know!
* * *
At our house everything is now done—the decorating, the shopping, the wrapping. Just a few final preparations, such as drying the bread for stuffing, and maybe attempting one last recipe I found online a few days ago. It's a version of cinnamon buns Cranberry Orange Poinsettia Coffee Cake. Don't these look lovely for Christmas Morning? Note: the photo is from ChinDeep and you'll find the recipe there as well.
Our Christmas will be small this year. Well laid plans to have Mom stay with us a few days and have a larger family gathering were put paid to when I started coughing a few days ago. In normal years, we'd say it's 'just a cold', but as sore throat and coughing are symptoms on 'The List' we have taken precautions and are doing the 10-day required isolation. Which means Christmas will be over by the time I'm free to mingle in public again or invite guests to visit. It's okay. Really. Our house is festive and cozy, the music is playing all day now, and baking is tucked in the freezer for afternoon tea. We'll anticipate celebrating with family and friends another time. Oh, and yes, I am recovering, feeling better every day. I didn't really think it was you-know-what but fingers crossed and all that...
* * *
And, now for a small parade of festive pictures from our house....
1. Tree Top Glistens
"...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
And even when my tree isn't freshly cut but sprung from a box, I still feel the joy of our Christmas tree sparkling with lights and pretty ornaments and mysterious presents laid beneath its branches. Guess what, after everything was done, I found another set of lights hidden behind something else. I was wondering why it seemed less glimmery this year... oh well, next year.
* * *
2. The Kitchen Smells of Treats
Almond Cherry Balls
Cranberry Shortbread Stars
* * *
3. Snow and Shadows
Using the blue 'Arctic' filter
Same scene in the waning afternoon sunlight
* * *
4. Hope in Winter
Freeze-dried geranium blossom in the garden
I think for those of us who celebrate Christmas, we tend to have a longing for the season, the actual day, to be a time filled with the good things in life and nothing of what causes pain or sorrow. I don't know about you, but I know I do feel sadder when I hear something sad or disastrous has happened to someone somewhere at this time of year. And we lament, And at Christmas too! as if Christmas should be the one day of the year free from sadness and only filled with mirth and merriment. If only!
In our upside-down world life doesn't unfold like that right now. I am grateful and never want to take for granted that things are sweetly quiet around here in our cozy nest - family is well and many friends are well, and daily cares can be set aside for the moment. I came across these words from John Blase, a fellow I follow on Twitter. They rang true for me, and so I offer them to you as my closing thought today. I especially love his last line.
* * *
In the face of seasoned waves of evil
That we would sing that old noel
That we would hang lights on branches
That we would give gifts to others
Even if that gift is ourselves -
This, this is a defiance seemingly impotent
Against the principalities and powers who
Daily conspire to convince us that
We are alone and love is a lie.
But do not be deceived for the demons themselves
Tremble at such quaintness.
Sisters and brothers, Christmas on.
* * *
From my heart to yours,
here's wishing you a beautiful Merry Christmas.
All photos except the following belong to Brenda:
(1)Top Image (candle) by stefannyffenegger from Pixabay
(2)Graphic with Corrie ten Boom Quote: Artist Unknown
(3)Image(cranberry buns)from ChinDeep.com