Mountain Mornings

How Many Days Til Christmas?

“Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, I’ll get to you eventually!” Probably not the first one to ever chant that refrain the week before Christmas, but I do have the lights strung. For those of us late-tinselers, there is comfort in the history of these sparkling conifers being Christmas Eve surprises for the kiddies. All the best old holiday movies are proof, although the sleight-of-handiwork by Mary Bailey, the Bishop’s Matilda, and her rescuer, Dudley, are high bars.

Every year my intention is to simply dress the house with sprigs of greenery and loops of ribbon, but the absence of snowpeeps, beckoning stars, and silver bells becomes intolerable. No sooner have the snowfolk shuffled in, than stars, and stringsandstringsoflights begin appearing on the mantel, and windows, and far more surfaces than less enthusiastic household members can abide.

Not that this all happens Christmas week. On the first weekend in December, I did crank up the mule to mosey around snipping from the beautiful native hollies, pines, and cedar in the woods, as well as the assorted magnolias, hemlocks, hollies, and cypress planted here years ago with this in mind. Added to branches trimmed from Fraser firs, this becomes the yuletide blend that disguises the fake garland around the front door, covers the mailbox with a festive “Merry, Merry” to passersby, and bombs everywhere indoors that it doesn’t slide off.

For the next week or two it was a scramble to bag, wrap, and drop off here, there, and everywhere—while the tree languishes, still in a bucket of water on the deck. And like everyone else with loved ones needing extra protection, our family’s plans for big gatherings have given way to another year of stay-at-home festivities. Happily, that seems to be driving even more interest in doing as much as possible for others.

Isn’t that the true miracle of Christmas? Stoking our year-round love and compassion to do just a little more for just a few more? Doesn’t that light up this old world like nothing else ever could? Happiest wishes to those whose holidays coincide, and a very Merry Christmas to all this week, trusting that you know you are always, always loved beyond measure.