Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gifts of the Season

As Autumn drops its last leaves, exiting through the back door, winter slyly takes up residence, settling in with brisk winds, cooler temperatures and its own delights. I wake slowly in the morning now with a sense of calmness, realizing I no longer have to jump out of bed and get the day going. With my season over, I have the luxury of time, at least for a few weeks. While the rest of the world is wrapped up in the shine and sparkle of holiday shopping, I dream of my children arriving home and throwing my arms around them, breathing in their essence as I did when they were babies.

All the Christmas crowds and endless advertising to get me to spend money on things I don't want sets my teeth on edge. I'd rather spend my time admiring nature and how she has adorned herself this time of year. Pyracantha bushes host weighty clusters of ribbon-red berries from top to bottom, their gifts for the birds. The mimosa tree drips seed pods that sing their own carols when accompanied by a frisky north wind, and my rosemary bush is bursting with heavenly lavender blossoms. And each evening, the western sky shines brighter than any Christmas lights a store can offer.

When my children were young, we always had a real Christmas tree, trekking into the woods to cut our own or walking down rows and rows of precut trees looking for the perfect shape and size. But secretly, I always yearned for one of those vintage silver trees that are now quite popular and priced crazy high. Their silver branches remind me of icicles escaping from roof lines, the sun glinting off freshly fallen snow and fragile, glass-thin patches of ice along the edge of a pond or the Albemarle Sound.

Last year, I found just such a tree, about five feet high, at a yard sale. The owner stoked his chin and pondered as to whether he really wanted to sell it after all. Perhaps he saw the longing in my eyes, but he ended up letting it go for a very good price. The tree now resides in the far corner of my dining room, laden with glass ornaments from my childhood as well as newer ones in the shapes of owls, fox and birds. Real starfish and crab shells are nestled into the branches and whelk cases wrap around the tree like garlands tossed up by King Neptune. Bird and bee nests can be spotted near the top. And my tree topper is and always will be a macaroni star my youngest son made when he was just a toddler. This year it is surrounded by an assortment of feathers from my collection. At night, the little white lights cause the reflected colors to shift on the branches when the air is disturbed by a passing feline.

I have done some shopping for things I know will be meaningful to my family, and soon I will begin baking and filling the freezer with favorite treats. I don't have visions of sugarplums dancing through my dreams. But as I close my eyes each night, I anticipate the laughter and love that will resound throughout The Crooked Little House as the year comes to a close. I cannot think of a better gift.

"Wisdom comes with winters."   -   Oscar Wilde


  1. i concur! i rec'd yesterday,in the mail,red sunflower seeds that we will plant around our place.if all goes well,there will be oodles of admirer's when they bloom,and hopefully the garden club will call!
    we have self-gifted for years!
    glad you are feeling better!
    hello erb & buddah!
    have a well deserved rest, elizabeth!