by Brenda Reeser

I like this time of year. The days are overcast, and the air is damp with promises of a snowfall. There is security in a smaller sky. I take time to read on these gray days. “The Peppered Moth” by Margaret Drabble sits on the shelf next to our bed. The outside work is completed; the flowerbeds are put to rest, and the leaves have been raked. The sultry smell of the earth still lingers before the ground freezes. The outdoor furniture is put away, as well as straw hats hanging on the hooks by the door. Woolen hats and flannel shirts replace them. It’s time to claim time for being indoors. It’s time to bring in the wood, light a fire, smell that first smoke of the hardwood, and rest to prepare for the busy days ahead.

The Catskills are beautiful anytime of year, but the wintry light from these mountain skies seems to be a perfect backdrop for the holidays to come. The last dried orange leaves stubbornly stick to the maple trees, as clumps of snow lie on the hemlock branches. It’s an ideal complement, I think. We leave white lights on our balsam tree near the garden all year long. They shimmer more now, symbolic of the festivities ahead, perhaps. Doug and I will celebrate our own Christmas by recognizing the importance of both its secular and religious traditions.

We’ll take a walk in the woods and decorate with the greens we find. The smell of pine will permeate the house. We’ll make a swag out of hemlock for the front door and decorate our mailbox with red velvet ribbon. We’ll buy a tree from Ben Balcom and hang multi-colored lights, just as we did when we were children. I’ll roast a chicken (seasoned with fresh rosemary and garlic) on the day we decide to decorate this beautiful tree. It’s become our family tradition. Doug is patient with hanging the lights, and I escape to the kitchen to check on the boiling potatoes or pull out the poached pears from the refrigerator. We’ll enjoy the glow of the fire and listen to music. “White Christmas” and Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik!

Doug and I make more plans. We’ll have friends over on Christmas Eve. I’ll make it simple this time, I promise him! Maybe we’ll grill sausages or roast a goose, and we’ll enjoy a special bottle of red wine. We’ll relish the German Stolen from Aldi’s. There’s something extra special about the sharing of this holiday with friends. Maybe I’ll stuff the goose with a sausage/cranberry stuffing.

We’ll go to the tree lighting in Andes on December 7th and sing holiday songs at the Hunting Tavern Museum with our community friends. And we’ll try to attend the annual Cantata at the Methodist Church this year. So much planning and hard work go into these events. We’ll watch videos like, “The Grinch that Stole Christmas” or “Charlie Brown’s Christmas”, and won’t tell anyone. Maybe we’ll be invited to a Hanukkah party again this year. I’ll bake apple cakes for friends and remember our mail carriers and Mr. Taylor who works at the transfer station. These men are always mindful of the duties and obligations that go with their work.

We’ll look forward to receiving greeting cards, attending neighborhood parties, skiing and all the activities connected to this time of year. But surely, we’ll take time to sit quietly to take in the joys and challenges of this past year, and then look toward the future, knowing that the best is yet to come. ~


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