Saturday, November 26, 2005

Christmas countdown ~ day 28

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, tiny tots with their eyes all aglow....I love it all.

Today we are at day 28, the 4-weeks-'til-Christmas eve day. I have my list and am ready to go. I am listening to Best Loved Christmas Carols by the Choir of King’s College in Cambridge. The smell of cinnamon potpourri is permeating the dining room. It is brisk and cold outside and I have already lingered too long watching the cardinals and juncos at the bird feeder on the west side of the house. Joe and I stayed up late last night reveling in hot chocolate topped with real whip cream and decorating the small Christmas tree in my kitchen with copper cookie cutters and a parade of angels I made years ago. Tiny containers of sprinkles sit on the counter in anticipation of their role in sparkling up cut outs of stars and miniature trees.

Actually, I spent yesterday Christmas shopping. I got up early, put in the last load of dishes still awaiting a good scrubbing from the Thanksgiving Day stuff-your-tummy-athon. I took a shower and clean flannel jammies, Christmas ones. I brewed a piping hot cut of tea and sat down in front of the computer, armed with a list, credit card, and a reasonable budget. Since there were so many leftovers, I didn't need to think about cooking for the gang so, with only a couple interruptions, I had more than half of my Christmas shopping completed within just a few hours. No crowds, no crabby sales people, no parking space issues, no tired feet at the end of the day. It was wonderful...and not bad, considering I shop for 6 children, three spouses of said children, 6 grandchildren, my husband and my mother.

We do Christmas big at our house. I cannot say exactly why we started this tradition but we did and we love it. Perhaps it was fond memories I had when I was young, though not of my own typical Christmas day. Being an only child, I longed to have siblings to share in the delights of Christmas cheer. I also longed to escape the sad, boring Christmases with my dad's side of the family...they all wear cowboy boots and grunt (not that I have anything at all against cowboy boots but not with grunting), my uncle chews tobacco, my cousin, Roy, was once mistaken for Wayne Newton at an airport, seriously, and no one in the entire family reads...need I say more... to join the near-circus of the Hewitt family Christmas. My mother had 8 brothers and sisters. There were 36 grandchildren, though we were never all at my grandma's house at once. But there was sure to be chaos, pandemonium, and continual hubbub.

My Aunt Pearl, barely 5 feet tall, even while wearing her usual large hat, lit up the room with her smile and her laughter. My grandma's tree reached the 12 foot ceilings in her front parlor and there were presents for everyone under that enormous tree. The dining room table held cookies and candies and, of course, the Christmas ham. No Silent Night could be sung in that crowd.

So, as our own family grew, Christmas started to take on a life of its own. We started our own traditions, have our own routines. Wherever my own children may be on December 25th, they will know there is a place called "home" and that Christmas, the celebration of the grand entrance of God in the flesh, the birth of Christ our Savior, we are doing Christmas, there is plenty to eat, and the door is always open to them.

I will share some of these traditions over the next few weeks. Please comment and tell me your own experiences, things that are important to you during this most wonderful season of all.

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

From God our heavenly Father
A blessed angel came;
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tiding of the same;
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name.

"Fear not, then," said the angel,
"Let nothing you affright;
This day is born a Savior
Of a pure virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in him
From Satan's power and might.

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
this holy tide of Christmas
Doth bring redeeming grace.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!"


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