In morning's semi-conscious state I enter the Corridor leading to December's festive snow-frigid corner of the world as the crystal-crunching, snow-slushing plow rumbles along the avenue, a harbinger of winter whiteness and Christmas. Awakened and aware, faux-fur slippers and fleecy robe are donned hurriedly while scurrying down the stair in the half-light of dawn as moonlight gives way to the glimmer of the sunrise horizon. Pristine, clean, a new day, a fresh-washed scene.
The final leaf of the whimsy-filled record of illustrated months is turned, unveiling December's crown of Christmas celebration, calling for weeks of preparation and joy making.
Old meets new as boxes and bins from darkened attic corners spill forth glistening glass balls; spangled, jangling jingle bells; familiar figures fired and painted by Grandma's own hand. Boughs once born on billowing pines find purpose in vacant vases and gaping baskets. Greenery garlands prickle mantle and pane as candlelight's glow warms the descending chill darkness.
In the kitchen, burnished tones of Bing and Buble', Diana and Ella mingle and bake into the nutmeg-cinnamon spiced air. Sentimental sounds of carol singing and duet playing drift in from the front room, accompanying precision-stacked snow-covered rum logs, tumbled shiny-faced sugar cookies, and mounded powdery pecan balls; confections and delights fill the table, the counters, readied for assembly on holly-leaved platters to later adorn dessert buffets and family room coffee tables.
Another December ritual soon begins. A brown-colored delivery vehicle, like a treasure-laden camel, pulls to a stop in front of the house. A matching brown-colored delivery person emerges and, tossing boxes on the porch, rings the bell then scurries away quickly (and more and more so as the days and weeks pass) back to the waiting brown cavern. A thrill emanates and reverberates as I, too, now scurry quickly (and more and more so as the days and weeks pass) to the front door where I whisk the packages away lest errant eyes spy a return address label: Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, American Girl Dolls. The time for such revelation has not yet come.
The stash of bags and boxes bulges; clutter consumes and in spite of magnanimous efforts toward order, my room becomes a whirlwind of clandestine activity. Colorful paper scraps and remnants of ribbon curl in the corners. A kaleidoscope of rolled patterns - red and green plaid, blue and gold angels, snowmen and santas, stars and berries - transform the ordinary into magical mystery.
A tree has been gotten. Fresh, pungent scent. Arms that welcome the pretties we love: lights full of color, ornaments both simple and elegant stored away all year for this special time, and Michael the angel. Nothing quite compares with this best beauty. Magical-mystery boxes now find places under the tree where they await the moment of revelation. But first they must endure prodding and shaking and pinching.
Music, music, and more music - choral ensembles are dreamed and schemed and rehearsed, piano duets bring daily delight, schmaltzy songs are composed, party-goers encircle the black baby grand and sing, sing, sing! The sounds of Christmas echo long into the dark night, long after all are tucked into bed.
Jesus' birth, the gift of God to mankind, His gift of love. This is true love, this is mercy, this is joy and hope and peace; peace with God, peace with one another, peace with oneself. When weariness attempts to dampen the spirit, when cynicism at celebration gone wrong creeps toward me, I remember, I recall. This all began with Him. His was the great offering, the first and best gift. I will always keep Christmas because He should always be remembered.
As the season ends and boxes are returned to attic corners, as scraps are swept away and cookie platters emptied, I sigh. Another magical occasion is completed, put away for remembering someday, for reaching back and pondering and reminiscing.
For now, in the dark and snow-quieted wonderland of a wintery new year, I rest.