A Christmas Morning

I wondered if I would feel it when I woke up in the pre-dawn of Christmas morning on this year of all years; that familiar electricity mixed with anticipation and unbridled joy instilled from my earliest childhood memories. The magic of Christmas that has nothing whatsoever to do with presents or pandemics.

I did feel it.

The house was incredibly quiet and peaceful as I went downstairs, turned on all of the Christmas lights and fed the animals. So many memories of Christmases past came to me from the old house on Westwood Lane. Mom made the holidays magical, and Christmas mornings were the stuff of fairytales to me. She thought of everything, down to the bite taken out of the cookies left for Santa. I remember the year there was no money for a Christmas tree; she dug up one of our bushy trees in the front yard and brought it inside to decorate. She always said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” She was right; even now in a global pandemic, there is no stopping Christmas.

It’s very cold and windy here in Birmingham (well, cold by Birmingham standards), but I bundled up and headed out with Marley for our long morning walk around the neighborhood. Yesterday I’d carried a bag of my Tollhouse cookies in hopes of running into my new friend, Jack, a wonderful older gentleman with an infectious smile and a voice just like Louis Armstrong who I talk with every morning as I pass the local grocery store. It was rainy and cold out, so I understandably didn’t find Jack. This morning I didn’t think he’d be at the store and left the cookies at home…and then there he was, smiling and waving, the only person out and about in the quiet of Christmas morning. I couldn’t let him down.

I had given him cookies last week, and he was so tickled and grateful that I just had to bring him more. I ran back to the house to retrieve them with a confused Marley who didn’t understand why we were heading home so soon. It was all worth it to see Jack’s big smile when I handed him the bag. Making cookies for people has become an important part of the holiday for me now, and I felt a swell of joy at having delivered my gift as Marley and I continued on our way. Mom always said the best gifts came from the heart.

The rest of this Christmas Day has been so nice, one of my most favorite Christmases yet in fact. With just the two of us, we decided to do something totally different and made a big vegetable lasagna. I set the table with our good China, holiday napkins, and crystal and lit all the candles. Christmas music played as Marley slept at our feet under the table and Shiva graced us with her feline presence periodically. It was special but not fancy- just right. We watched movies snugged up by the fire and enjoyed leftovers for dinner. The day was very different from our usual holiday, but it was wonderful, filled with great conversation, laughter, and gratitude. And magic. Magic was there in ways large and small, in every twinkling light, in the act of giving and receiving, in our memories, and in the love that fills our home. Christmas came indeed, just as it always will.

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