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Friday, December 28, 2012

And so this is Christmas...

So this is Christmas…and what have you done? Another year over…a new one just begun. ~ John Lennon

It’s a sunny, crisp morning in December. I have just returned from the barnyard, where I fed a bucket of over-ripe, fragrant apples to the cows, donkey and horse. Mocha is nursing a poor snout after a meeting with a porcupine that didn’t go the way she expected. We have had two calves born in the past few weeks and the sheep that got caught by the ram late summer will be in waiting next. We may have a lamb born over the holidays.

As I return to the house and slide open the patio door, I’m welcomed by the smells of a recently stoked wood fire, crisp bacon and strong coffee. I had pancakes made with oatmeal, cottage cheese and egg. Sounds horrible and it is but it balances my blood sugar. And I top them with unsweetened preserves and plain yogurt to make them more palatable. My weekend ritual complete, it’s time to write a column. The last one before Christmas.

I hope we get at least a dusting of snow on the ground for Christmas morning. The holiday is going to be hard this year for a lot of people, as the economy has forced many of us into celebrations of austerity. The Farmer and I also decided to put a little more effort into choosing special gifts for each daughter, instead of just handing over a whack of cash this year. We saved quite a bit of money this way and I really enjoyed the shopping for a change, because I had wish lists to go from. Just like when they were young, when receiving My Little Pony or Tickle Me Elmo was their wish come true. Except now it’s luggage, cell phones, and gift certificates for clothing.

Christmas will be very difficult for several Connecticut families torn apart by the recent school shooting. Maybe that horrific act will remind the rest of us to put resentments and hurt feelings aside over the holidays, and just enjoy each other’s company.

I did my second shift of jingling the bells for the Salvation Army on Friday afternoon. Normally I only do one two-hour shift but this year they were short on volunteers and needed more help. As we got closer to Christmas I noticed less people were stopping to put cash in the kettle – but the ones who did were putting in larger amounts. It’s not a time to pass judgment; no need to apologize if you aren’t giving at the kettle. There are many other ways to show people you care during the holiday season.

We are constantly being reminded that not everyone celebrates Christmas. And even for those who do recognize the Christian holiday, Christmas isn’t always a happy occasion. Maybe it conjures up bad memories, or just sheds a light on the fact that you can’t afford to celebrate the way other families do.

This is supposed to be a joyful season; not a stressful one. I know as I stood jingling the bells for the Sally Ann, I got so many smiles from people that the ones I gave in return had my face aching like it was my wedding day all over again. But I did see quite a few people with pained expressions, maybe because by Friday afternoon they had just about had enough of work for one week, or maybe there was a more serious reason for their stress. One man in particular caught my eye as he dragged his young son into the store, through the produce section and half an hour later, into the photo shop. The man wasn’t smiling, and his son looked upset. They left just as I was getting up the nerve to say something.

On my way home I stopped in at the home of the Avon lady in Oxford Mills to pick up an order. My nerves were still a little jangled by the site of the mean man with his child. Heather cheered me up, though. Her cute little log cabin home was lit by the glow of the wood stove, and her huge smile. She gave me a box of homemade Christmas cookies along with my order. This is what life in a small town is supposed to be like at Christmas.

Happy Holidays everyone.

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