“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”
Last night my house was festive with all the lights lit, both back and front. The star on the fence is so bright you’d swear it swooped down from the sky just for the occasion. Late yesterday afternoon I went to Agway just for dog food and a red bow for the sled outside, but I should have known better. I ended up buying poinsettias, small ones for a cart in my dining room, a rosemary tree which fills the house with its fragrance, a small wreath for the gate, a larger wreath for the front door and a juniper swag for the mantle. The only thing left is the tree, but I say that with tongue in cheek.
It’s been a bit colder the last few days, in the mid to high 40’s, but it’s still not winter. Yesterday in one store I saw a woman wearing mittens, and I wondered if she was from a warm place.
People have started wishing each other a Merry Christmas. I’ve been hearing it in the stores when friends greet each other. I guess the season really is upon us. I opened day two of my advent calendar this morning, and it was a tree waiting to be decorated. I took my time placing the ornaments in exactly the right spots.
The only two times I was away at Christmas was when I was in the Peace Corps. I was 22, but I was still a kid at Christmas, and I was missing the snow, the lights and the tree and mostly I was missing my mother teasing me about my gifts, something she did all of her life. “Guess what I just bought you,” was what I’d hear this time of year. I’d pepper her with questions and get a hint which was really no hint at all. She sent me a box, air mail no less, just before my first Christmas away. It had a small artificial tree, some ornaments from our own tree, brick crepe paper to make a fireplace and a stocking. I decorated right away and felt a little less lonely.
A story I have told here before is one I’d like to tell again as that night still means so much to me. It was my first year in Bolgatanga. Christmas time in northern Ghana is the time of the harmattan. The days are hot, hot enough to melt a candle hot, but the nights are cold or at least cold in comparison. I kept my windows open so I could feel the cold, but I put a wool blanket on my bed to keep me warm. One night I was feeling sorry for myself missing Christmas and my family and was lying in bed trying to fall asleep when I heard someone singing We Three Kings. It was the only sound in the night, and it traveled through the clear air from one of the compounds near my house. I could tell it was a young boy. He sang each verse so clearly and so beautifully I was filled with all sorts of feelings especially joy at this gift he was giving me. Every year since then I have remembered that Christmas and that small boy and the most wonderous gift I was given.