Christmas arrived home last night. Admist laughter and siblings jostling for position in front of the tree, the festive season settled in for a visit bringing with it the joy and wonder of this special time of year. Twinkling bells and pink bows and sparkling lights and shiny balls of glass, crystal ballet slippers and butterfly wings and tiny glittery birds bedeck the tree. Boughs and bows and balls adorn the windows and the house is awash in the smell of pine and cinnamon and the sweet sounds of Christmas choirs playing softly.
Along with Alexis, Liseanne and her boyfriend, C.C.'s son and daughter lent a hand as we packed up the old and brought in the festive wares. As youngest male, Liseanne's boyfriend, RL, got to put the skirt under the tree. And MC, C.C.'s daughter got to do the honours as the youngest female.
Of course, there was a moment of consternation when C.C. forget the protocol of Christmas tree decorating and handed MC the angel right at the beginning, pointed to the step-ladder and said, Ok, up you go.
No. No! cried my daughters. Stop! The angel goes on last!
It is our tradition.
And then, I hung an ornament or two and the girls quickly intervened again. No No. Stop! The strings of glass beads and the bows! They go on next.
We laughed and joked about fading memories and Christmas traditions that cannot be modified and the tree got decorated in all its glory and at the last, MC climbed up and placed the angel at the top.
She looked beautiful. Both MC and the tree. Glittering in light. Sparkling with bows and glittering glass beads and tiny ornaments we have collected over the years.
C.C. and Liseanne and her boyfriend and I had gone out earlier in the day to find the perfect tree. It is not an easy thing for us to select a tree -- I think it's why for the past few years I've resorted to an artificial one. No decision making required!
But eventually, after much this one, no this one, no this one! we found the perfect tree to bring home. And, unlike in years past where I had roped the tree to the top of my car and driven home with it precariously perched and the girls screaming, Stop! Stop! It's going to fall off, getting the tree home this year was easy. RL has a pick-up truck!
And while waiting for the others to arrive so we could decorate it, we cleared away ornaments and knickknacks. Put away every day dishes to load the cupboards with holiday wares. And when the others came, we got busy! This morning I arose, plugged in the lights and sat amidst the quiet and soaked up the essence of this special time of year.
Family gathered together. Laughter. Care. Teasing. And, as happens every holiday season, a mishap or two.
Last night's was the Pyrex casserole dish exploding on the stove top as C.C. made the gravy. Shards of glass flew across the counter, gravy spilled across the glass cook top and oozed its way towards the lip of the stove, seeking release. C.C., ever quick-witted, confined the sticky, oozy mess to the surface of the stove as he quickly loaded paper-towels on the edge.
I was standing beside him, spooning spaghetti squash out of its shell when the dish exploded with a loud and resonating CRACK!
Startled, I jumped back as he deftly moved to keep the mess from spreading too far.
In the end, no other damage, no one was hurt and the only misfortune, no gravy for dinner.
We left the mess on the stove top, moved into the dining room and sat down to a delicious meal, none-the-less. I lit the third advent candle of the season and whispered a silent prayer for Joy to the world. Dishes were passed, plates were loaded and we laughed and joked and ate with gusto.
And after, when the dishes were done, we played a game of THINGS and laughed some more as the kids tried to outdo each other in outrageous answers. "What's a thing that shows you're losing your memory?" "Forgetting how many kids you have." "What's a thing you don't want to be found in the trunk of your car?" "Your kids."
And then C.C.s kids went home and he cleaned up the mess on the stove top and I finished loading the dishwasher and the house became quiet and still and the lights twinkled and the music played softly and I breathed in the essence of Christmas.
It is the season of joy. A time to rejoice. A time for goodwill amongst men.