I love the way a note begins with Dear…
I love the way there is magic in the air in the days before Christmas. I love the way people suddenly smile because on my head there are red velvet antlers adorned with tiny bells. I love the way the letter from Francis Church, the editor of The Sun, to little Virginia O’Hanlon fills my heart with believing. I love the way it feels to hold a pen in hand and write to Santa….
Where do you begin when you don’t know where to begin? How do you give a gift to someone you don’t know? It takes me ages to write because I pause often and go back over my words trying to get them just so, for the heart of them to shine through. This early morning with the moon shining and the tree alight nearby I’m simply going to write to you….and try ever so hard not to look back…
Late at night on Christmas Eve I set out a Nativity Tray. It is the last touch of Christmas for me. It is an English medieval custom that I learned about in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book, Simple Abundance. She states…
“Legend has it that on the night of the Nativity, whosoever ventures out into great snows bearing a succulent bone for a lost and lamenting hound, a wisp of hay for a shivering horse, a warm cloak for a stranded wayfarer, a garland of berries for one who has worn chains, a dish of crumbs for all huddled birds who thought their song was dead, and sweetmeats for little children who peer from lonely windows – whosoever prepares this simply abundant tray, shall be proffered and returned gifts of such an astonishment as will rival the hues of the peacock and the harmonies of heaven.”
So, it is that I quietly gather the best I have to offer and arrange it on my grandmother’s tray. I carry it beneath the stars to set it in its place. I look up into the night sky whether cloudy or clear and send all my love and best wishes to those who rest in my heart…known and unknown.
I have been reading Simple Abundance for so many years that the cover is worn from handling. There are dated pencil marks all through it, notes I’ve made to myself. Here, the birthday of a friend. There, a date I will never forget. Stars and check marks and all manner of special remembrances.
Sarah’s writing has broadened my world and blessed me over and again. Through her, I discovered one of my favorite books of all time, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Next is Elizabeth von Arnim. It took me ages to find her book, Elizabeth and Her German Garden, but it was ever so worth it. And I, myself began to write more because of Ms. Ban Breathnach’s encouragement. She and I have never met as authors and readers so seldom do. Nevertheless, she has become a beautiful part of my days.
Bo is my lost and lamenting hound. He arrived on Christmas morning a few years ago, hungry and alone…searching… He found my Nativity tray. He devoured everything that was edible and a few bits that weren’t. Then he dashed by the window and I thought – what was that?! I bundled up against the cold and went out to see… there was Bo. He came to my side and has never left.
There are so many inspiring thoughts in my heart this morning. There is the girl I don’t know. I heard her story a few days ago and quickly found myself at her age in it. I did only a small thing for her that was in my grasp to do. There are those who won’t be given the time off that their loving efforts deserve. There are those who at the moment have not and cannot for themselves. There are those who help them. There are those who have lost and there are who are lost. And, of course there are the little ones.
I find myself in each of them… Although I have not traveled their path, I have been in so many of those places.
Have you ever read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck? Have you ever donned your best dress to deliver chicken soup….lived in unlivable spaces….gone silent with wondering….captured a kazillion frogs….tried a beer milkshake….been surprised by a poem…have you?
I was so intrigued by the beer milkshake that I couldn’t stand it. I had to try it! I wouldn’t want a steady diet of them but all in all, not bad really. Even now…I recall turning the page and there was the ancient love poem…Black Marigolds. It was new to me. I was mesmerized…
What I really love about the story is this, that there are so many ways to Be in this world. They all look different and that’s ok. Steinbeck does the telling of it far more justice than I do. You should read him for yourself.
I was afraid to come here. WordPress, that is. I have no experience with social media. I have never been on Facebook or twitter or anything else. So, I was very unsure of this unknown space, the ways of it and those who share it.
I had a terrible time trying to decide on what to name my site…and then, what was ok to write on it! Along came your kindness and your welcoming of me…my heart was touched. It was so hard for me to imagine that anyone would care to read my thoughts. But there you were, reading anyway.
And here entered the world of comments and emojis which I confess, were another stumbling block for me. You may not realize it but, I take as much care with my comments and my thank you’s as with my posting. I want you to know how much your time and thought mean to me. I’m certain I mess up plenty. Each time I hope to do better, to get it right….
This place has become a gift to me, as much as The Little Prince or Gift from the Sea or Sarah Ban Breathnach, one that I could never have imagined for myself. You are a beautiful part of my days with pencil marks of remembrance in the margins. You show me all the faces of kindness. You broaden my horizons. You encourage me to write. You inspire me…you touch my heart and I am humbly grateful.
Tonight, I will carefully prepare the tray as I always do. I’ll carry it quietly to its place. I will gaze into the night sky whether cloudy or clear…into the lovely heart of nowhere…and I will send my love and best wishes to you…even now my thoughts turn to that moment and I am mesmerized…
Wherever you are and whatever you celebrate know that my thoughts are with you for peace and joy in all things in all your days.
Early morning December 24, 2018