"He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness."
~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Less than ten days til Christmas! The children count down each day and run to me, excited and with rosy cheeks, telling me exactly how many days are left. When I was a little child every Christmas my mother would bring out our Christmas calendar; a printed fabric panel, with little pockets for each day and a tiny stuffed mouse that we would take turns moving to the correct pocket. My mother somehow managed to find an identical calendar when my own little ones were small and even the big boys still love to watch the mouse move closer and closer to the last day on the calendar - the 24th! Christmas Eve!
After Thanksgiving, it was barely a few days, it seemed, til Christmas burst upon us everywhere. Suddenly the windows of the still-open shops in our tired little country town were full of greenery and red ribbons, and the light posts were festooned in stripes of red and white, like giant peppermint sticks. Wreathes appeared on church doorways, giant inflatables in the yards of ordinarily prim and proper citizens, and strings of lights lit up the streets as each house was festively decorated for the holidays.
We enjoyed one evening walking through the town where my son goes to school. It was a fun night of hearing Christmas carolers, visiting shops that were warmly decorated and serving hot chocolate and cookies (and freshly fried donuts!), talking to Santa, making crafts, and, for the youngest three, getting face-painted to look like a reindeer. Everywhere we went tiny train sets raced around decorated tracks and handmade crafts and goodies from local artists were available for sale. We stopped at the antique store, where you never know exactly what you will find, and found a few special things!
Another day we attended a local Christmas parade and the girls squealed with delight as they picked up candy canes, tootsie rolls and lollipops that were thrown down from the floats.
When my youngest sister and her fiance visited, we ventured a bit farther to the Big City and walked through the Festival of Lights at the zoo. It was full of people, full of music, animals and magical lights! The girls were beyond delighted to meet Elsa!
With just over a week left til Christmas day, I am feeling the urge to stay home. After the kids finish up their week at school with Christmas parties on Friday, we will have just enough time to spend a few cozy days baking all kinds of cookies, making up gift plates for the neighbors, hanging up our stockings and finishing secret projects. May you all have a very happy, very blessed, very peace-filled Christmas!
"So, my dears, I hope you will be happy this Christmas, and not quarrel. and will have some good games with your Railway all together. Don't forget old Father Christmas, when you light your tree."
~ J.R.R. Tolkien Letters from Father Christmas