Every Christmas season is different, but remarkably the same. Enchantment fills the air and brings out the best in people. Wreaths of cedar and holly with bright red ribbons appear on windows and doors. Snowflakes materialize on the main streets in Baxley, adding a cheerful shine to the night sky. And the Christmas trees appear all over town. I do love a Christmas tree and I love the season.
Last Thursday when I checked the mail, I was delighted to see a card from some old friends who moved away years ago. Larry and I worked in scouts with the Meriers and haven’t seen them in years, but we cherish the memories we and our boys made with them and their boys. How fabulous to hear from them at Christmas time, or any time, for that matter. However, the magic of Christmas makes us stop and remember, stop and send a note--just another wonderful part of the season. I love Christmas cards, even on those years when I don’t manage to send mine out. They warm my heart.
And this season added yet another pleasure--an exceptional concert in the Old City Gym. I hope you went, even if I did publish the wrong time last week. I apologize for my carelessness. I did check, but I wasn’t the only one advertising the wrong time. The concert was everything I promised and far more. I can’t remember when I’ve ever heard better, if ever. Talented voices rose in that old gym, hand bells chimed, and the amazing tones of the organ, piano, and brass instruments blended into pure and glorious harmony. As I stood and sang with the audience, I felt chill bumps of pleasure running over my skin. What a miraculous occurrence! I hope it becomes an annual thing, something we can anticipate from one year to another.
Yes, I love it all, the Christmas trees, curly ribbons, wreaths of cedar and holly, packages with red bows, hot apple cider simmering on the stove, and the smell of gingerbread filling my kitchen. I spend hours and hours preparing our feast, but I enjoy it. On the day before Christmas, Larry will gather the mustard greens from the garden and help me wash and strip them. It’s a slow process, but one well worth the effort. While we clean and prepare the greens, the ham hocks will boil in the big pot on the stove, waiting for the greens to be added. The fruitcake is already made, but I’ll bake pumpkin pies that day, too, while the greens cook. And of course I make my own pie crusts. Doesn’t everybody?
On Christmas morn, the ham goes early into the oven. The fat hen has been simmering in the crock pot all night to make dressing and giblet gravy. There’ll be cranberry sauce, yeast rolls, ford hook lima beans, sweet potato casserole, corn, and corn bread to go with the greens. We’ll dine well and be finished in far less time than it took me to prepare all that food. Fortunately, my family loves leftovers.
By the time we sit down to feast, the children will have long since opened Santa’s gifts and will be playing all over the house. Their voices will fill the house with laughter and increase my happiness. Christmas is a season of gladness and of caring for others.
In church this morning I sat watching the babies. The pastor carried one around the church as a part of his dedication service, and from his perch in the pastor’s arms, he solemnly checked out the congregation as we all smiled at him. The other was a pretty little cousin attending the ceremony with her family. Naturally, before the service started, everyone talked to and smiled at the babies. Who can resist? There’s just something about a baby. As I sat watching, I thought again about the tiny baby whose birth started the whole process. No matter how many feasts we prepare or eat, how many presents we give or receive, how many cards we get or send, or how many concerts we attend and enjoy, we must never forget that we celebrate this season because God gave the world a baby.
I hope every aspect of your holiday is joyful. Merry Christmas!