Thursday, December 5, 2013

Roses With Other Names

I woke early again, today. Despite what I would like, I think this will be my pattern until after Christmas. Fortunately, I have company. Cats are nocturnal, and one or the other is always awake and demanding attention. If I was asleep, they would simply walk on my face for it. Max, the dog, is not nocturnal. He sleeps no matter what. If the light on the bedside table is too bright, he shoves his head under a blanket, or the bathrobe, to shield his eyes and goes right on sleeping.

I have decided to consolidate the five, plastic 'totes' full of Christmas decorations past, into just one or two. 3 years ago, when I left the Old House, I saved so many things I just couldn't part with. Five boxes of Christmas things were part of the load. But I no longer need the plastic magnolia leaves and flowers to remember my Mother and Father by. I don't need the several string of lights with only one bulb that doesn't work, or all the sets of the Nativity figurines that my Mother collected. It's a great time to donate those things to a shelter, or to friends that may want a remembrance of Christmas Stewart Past.

My Mother's favorite decorations were her statues of the Madonna that she set in greenery every year. My brother and I split them when she passed, and I remember that, no matter how little money we had to celebrate in a year, a Madonna would be set in a dish of water, and cedar and white pine, nandina and its red berries, would be set on the oak dining table, to shine like a candle in the dark. Indeed, more often than not, white candles and cloth that looked like snow, would also be set somewhere in the house, to hold the Nativity scene.

So, for me, Christmas is not Santa figures, or candy canes, but lights and candles and the Nativity and the Madonna. It is a tree in a cool, dark room, strung with white lights, with ornaments made of oyster shells that gleam among the boughs. It is all the mystery and wonder that such sights evoke, with the miracle of birth added.

Don't get me wrong. I think Christmas is big enough of a celebration to handle a Dutch saint and some color, and toothsome candies, or "stockings hung by the chimney with care." Whatever traditions your religion holds for this time of year are worthy of celebration.

After all, Light is light, by any other name...

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