Christmas wishes


The wishes I wish for this Christmas are for all of YOU. And this is what I wish for you...

I wish you the peaceful understanding that you are loved by a Heavenly Father that will always love you no matter what.

I wish for you the eyes of a child that you may see the beauty that is everywhere in the smallest and most common of things.

I wish for you a sense of humor and fun that you may see life with a glint in your eye.

And lastly, I wish for you pearls of wisdom and knowledge that you may have perspective during all of life's experiences, both the happy and the sad.

Merry Christmas everyone!
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Smelling, hearing, tasting and seeing Christmas


1. Santa always left oranges, 2. Before the fudge..., 3. A child's Christmas wishes..., 4. Technicolor Red

I've waxed nostalgic this week thinking about all the memories of Christmases past. As I've reflected, I've found it interesting how many of the memories are sensory memories--smells, sounds, tastes and colors.

I keep all our Christmas decorations in plastic storage boxes in our walk-in attic. When it's time to decorate the house I go "shopping" in the attic and hand-pick the decorations I feel like featuring that year. I don't ever put out all the decorations at once. It would be exhaustive and way too cluttered. Instead, I like to "shop" for things I've forgotten we have or special items that I always remember when I think of decorating for Christmas.

A few years ago, my mother sat down with me and my brother and sister and we divided up all the Christmas decorations we had known as children. Each of us got to keep the things that mattered most to us while divesting my mother of the burden of storing so much.

This year, as I dug through one of the boxes of Christmas decorations I came across the jingle bell door hangers that my mom made about 40 years ago. The bells ring with a deep rich tone just as I have always thought the jingle bells on Santa's reindeer should sound. As my hands pawed through the box, the sound of the bells resonated up through the decorations. To me, that is the sound of Christmas.

Both Hubby and I are big fans of old classic movies, particularly old Christmas classics. One of our favorites is White Christmas. We popped it into the DVD player earlier this week to watch the digitally remastered and restored version we have in our cherished holiday collection. As I watched the brilliant dance numbers in glorious technicolor I found myself drawn to the reds over and over again. To me, that is the color of Christmas.

As I chatted with my mother on the phone this week, we reflected on the homemade Christmas treats that we considered to be the quintessential treat that always meant it was Christmas. Interestingly, it is different for the both of us. For my mom, it is the special butter cookies colored with green food coloring and sprinkled with colored sugar that her mother made every year. And although my mom continued that tradition for us, the Christmas treat I always associate with Christmas is my mom's homemade fudge. The creamy chocolate goodness melting in my mouth and sliding down my throat is what I remember. To me, that is the taste of Christmas.

Every year for as long as I can remember, an orange was left in the toe of my Christmas stocking. After digging my way through the contents of my bulging stocking, the last prize was always a perfect orange (usually a naval orange). During the childhood years we lived in snowy Colorado, that orange was a particular treat.

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, we got a scratch-and-sniff children's book entitled The Sweet Smell of Christmas about a little bear that went through his house smelling all the smells of Christmas. He, too, got an orange in the toe of his stocking and my favorite page of the book was that one where I could scratch and sniff the pungent aroma of orange.

Now that I have a home of my own, I grow a number of varieties of citrus in my garden. When I harvest the fruit, the bright smell of orange oil on my fingertips brings back memories of when everything seemed magical on Christmas morning. To me, that is the smell of Christmas.

What is the smell, taste, color, or sound of Christmas to you?
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Nature's stalwart ones

Last one standing

Our normally mild winter weather has taken on a bit of a chill thanks to the rare polar jet that is sweeping over us. Hubby has educated me that the arctic jet is what often brings us our cooler temps. But to have the polar jet come through is a rare occurrence. Because of this fact, there was snow in the neighboring towns yesterday morning. On the way to work, Hubby was able to see snow on the hills coming right down to the freeway on which he was commuting. That's something we've never seen before.

I spent my day watching the thermometer never get out of the 40's (5-9C) as well as making sure that all my tender subtropical plants (e.g., birds of paradise, hibiscus, and plumeria) were all tucked under cold frames so they could survive the frost forecast for the coming night. I'm careful to choose plants that can handle temps down to 20F (-7C) so I simply need to make sure that they are protected against frost forming on them.

As I puttered about the garden making sure everything would be fine, I interrupted a robin that had lit on the side of the pond to get a drink. I haven't seen a robin in the garden at all this year, even in the spring when robin-spotting would be the norm. Why was I seeing one now? I thought about this lone robin and where he must have flown in from. He probably came from a mountain clime where the weather is much more harsh than here. To him, our winter "chill" must have felt quite comfortable compared to the cold back home.

As I continued my garden chores, I found not one, but two confused lilac blossoms on two different bushes. Last year, I found one as well.

The lilac is a bush that needs stress in order to bloom. Normally, that stress comes in the form of a cold winter in states like New Hampshire where the lilac is the state flower. But here, we don't have severe temps that stress lilacs enough. Warm climate lilac varieties have been bred and these two of mine are of those varieties. Our very dry summers and the stress from lack of moisture can stress the lilac much like a cold winter, causing it to produce buds that will bloom in the spring. That's why sometimes my lilacs get confused once the autumnal rains come and think it's time to send out a measly little blossom or two at the same time that it's losing its leaves for the winter.

Since yesterday, I've thought a lot about the lone robin and the solitary lilac blooms. To some, they may appear out of sync--quirky anomalies with poor timing. Yet, I see them as symbols of steadfastness and stalwart hope.

I see the lilacs as a reminder that my stresses and trials in life are the things that have made me bloom. I haven't reveled in any trial while I'm in the midst of it, but when I look back I can see how each trial has caused me to grow and blossom in a way that I wouldn't have if I'd been spared the trial.

I see the robin as a reminder that circumstances are all relative. My coldest and darkest "winters" in life may be seen as a blessed respite by someone who has experienced even harsher conditions. If they could light in my world for a brief moment, they might see it as a "tropical paradise". I need to remember that when I feel things are dark and cold.

And finally, I see both the lilacs and the robin as wonderful reminders that it is okay for me to be "out of sync" and "quirky". I may not be on the timetable that seems socially acceptable, but that's okay. It's my timetable and my seasons of life. Instead of comparing myself to others, I need to just focus on where I am and make the most out of the season I'm experiencing. I need to take a cue from nature's stalwart ones.

What to do with a lilac blooming on Christmas...
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