Sunday, December 25, 2011

True Gifts

My favorite Christmas gifts are not the ones that come wrapped in packages. Though wrapping packages is one of the meditative exercises I do with pleasure over the Christmas season. I love choosing the paper for each package, then the perfect accenting ribbons, or baubles, and finally just the right tags, which I select and clip from Christmas cards past.

From the start of the season, the very first sounds light a little spark inside of me. My favorite Christmas carols: the soundtrack from Charlie Brown's Christmas, the soundtrack from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Andy Williams Greatest Christmas hits, especially "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and Ave Maria, sung by a choir. The former delivering the Christmas spirit directly into my heart, the latter sailing me through my earliest memories of sitting with my father while he explained to me that there would be a happy outcome with the abominable snowman, "Just wait and see," he would say, and other fond rememberances of a little boy with heart who refused to give into others and saw the beauty in the tiniest tree.

When the lights of Christmas begin to appear my heart leaps. I love all Christmas lights especially the old, large-bulbed, multicolored lights. I love how people take creative liberty to design their lightscape, wrapping them, twirling them, accentuating whatever their hearts desire. I have a tradition with my son, to get a warm cuppa and drive around listening to carols and taking in the lights, rating our favorites. Through the years it has become important talk time, that is a true Christmas gift.

The flavors of Christmas are amazing, cinnamon tea, and clove-flavored hard candy, sugar cookies, and cocoa with marshmallow fluff. Olives and onion dip and cheeses. Sparkling drinks with cherries. All of these things taste better at Christmas time. I still remember leaving Santa my favorite Christmas treat: chips and dip.

The scent of pine boughs and hollyberry candles, of warm things baking, of smoke sent through chimneys by fires crackling in fireplaces, fill me up, make childhood memories visceral.

I feel blessed to live in the north during the holiday season, to have crisp snow crunch under my feet on my walks, to feel cold air on cheeks, filling my lungs, is a blessing. Everywhere the trees and ground are decorated with crystals that shine.

These are the true gifts.