In unison, my grandchildren and I choose one special ornament to begin the decorating of the tree. This year my granddaughter Sara May chose the Christmas tree angel made by artist Julie Whitmore about 15 years ago. Sara cradled it in her arms then reached up and placed her as Asher, Ilyahna, and I hung our favorite things too.
"I salute You! There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven. No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take Peace. The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take Joy. And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away."
Fra Giovanni (from a letter written in 1513)
This was sent to us by our friend Marilyn. I keep it inside one of my Mary Oliver books right by my bedside. I think it is wonderful.
Out came the boxes of ornaments...the dog and badger are bread dough by Julie Whitmore.
This is such an emotional time of the year for many of us. I can't help thinking of friends and family no longer with us, but as we hang their ornaments on the tree and talk about them with the younger members of our family, I can feel that invisible thread of tradition and love continuing, unbroken, into our futures.
The days will be at the shortest this week, but I don't dwell on the darkness. I think of the fact that from December 21st onward, the days will begin to lengthen. I am living in the scents of this season, but almost smelling the sea-scented air of summer time.
This thumb-sized snowman is an antique. I love him and look forward to nestling him into the branches every year.
Finally, after years of not being able to locate it (since we moved from Cambria), Jeff found the old Christmas tree fence for the base of our tree.
Last week a small package arrived from our dear friend Marilyn Brewer of Maine. Inside it were some old-fashioned clip on Christmas ornaments and this small stocking with the work "READ," worked into the knitting. This is a handmade piece from Christmas Cove Designs of Maine. Doesn't every author, librarian, and book lover need one of these?
This year when Jeff asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I said, "Nothing," but then I amended my words, "except I would really LOVE to have a fireplace mantel again." My wish came true. I found a four foot piece of virgin redwood in a dumpster outside an 1890 building renovation downtown. Think of it; they threw out a piece of redwood that was probably 3,000 years old when it was harvested in the 1890s. Jeff milled it, stained it, made the supports, and now I have it...and a place for my beloved German stick sheep that always graced my mantel in Cambria. My grands were so happy to have them back..."just like old times," my 13 year old said.
The fabulous wreath above the mantel is a gift from my talented friend Carol Umbarger of Creekside Farms, who supplies many famous retail companies with her handmade wreaths.
I know this is corny, but I love having the lights reflected against my pots and pans.
Tomorrow evening, eight special people in our lives will gather around the old farm table for a feast. Here is the wonderful thing, my friends know that I'll be working straight through the day for a deadline, and also getting ready for a small surgery, and so they are bringing the entire dinner. All Jeff and I have to supply is seating, etc.. So I just finished setting the table and will deck the center with fresh pine and cedar boughs tomorrow before they all arrive. What a great gift–friendship, a meal shared with people we love, candles flickering, a glowing fireplace, and the sweet scent of evergreen.
Above is my wish for you. Heaven give you many, many merry days!
P.S. Lowe's posted two of my blogs...one on indoor plants, one on gifts for Christmas. Stop by the posting for a quick peek.