“No young folk ever look at you,” I heard the scarlet-mouthed poinsettia say to the mistletoe. “You’re dull and drab you know.”
But the gray-eyed mistletoe had a great comeback. “My dear, please remember this. Though they can’t help admiring you, they let me watch them kiss.”
I’ve got news for the poinsettia. It isn’t just young folk who stand beneath the mistletoe.
Once again, our towns are alive with the glow of Christmas. I love those dripping icicle lights. There’s a house near us that has those lights lining its eves. For all the world it looks like the gingerbread house a friend made for me out of graham crackers and frosting. He said it would last a couple years. Well, it’s now at least 25 years old and still in excellent shape.
That gingerbread house casts a Christmas spell over me. It’s on cardboard and there are pretzel people standing in the yard made of fluffy white snow frosting. Green gumdrops serve as evergreens and the fence is made of skinny red licorice. Fatter red licorice was used for shutters.
The front porch has an awning made with a graham cracker and the chimney is a short stack of wafer cookies.
My petite gingerbread house is so cozy looking. If I could, I’d open the door and go inside and give wings to my imagination.
Charles Dickens said, “It’s good to be children sometimes and never better than at Christmas.
If I was a little girl inside my gingerbread house, I would dance around in my unforgettable (not in a good way) blue taffeta dress. I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.
As I twirl and spin, visions of the five senses of Christmas dance in my head.
This time of year there are so many things to see. A burst of color on the tree, candlelight in a darkened room, stars that etch bright patterns in the night sky and red and green ribbons and wrappings.
At Christmas there are such wonderful smells: chestnuts roasting on an open fire, gingerbread men cooling on the counter, a jar of spice, pungent pine.
At Christmas there are fabulous things to touch: warm, fuzzy coats, hats and sweaters, velvet vests and hand-knit slipper socks, gifts that jingle when you shake the box.
At Christmas time there are luscious things to taste: sugar cookies, peanut brittle, fruitcake, a mug of hot chocolate and candy canes.
At Christmas time there are joyful things to hear: peeling church bells, festive voices of a choir, the snap of twigs in the forest and the story told over and over of the birth of our Savior, Jesus, and peace on earth, good will toward men.
As I dance out of my gingerbread house I consider this: Christmas is more than seeing, smelling, touching, tasting and hearing. Christmas is the Holly and the Ivy. Its baskets full of memories of family and friends – the memories we’ve already made, the ones waiting in the wings.
We all have precious memories of Christmases past. Many of mine are of the programs in my country church as a small child, saying my piece and getting it right and afterwards getting a gift bag. Inside I found ribbon and chocolate drop candy, a popcorn ball and a shiny red apple to eat on our 10-mile trip home.
Other great memories come from school Christmas programs.
One image that often pops into my mind happened when I was in elementary school in Russell, N.D. It was a big square sandy colored brick structure that no longer is physically there, but still vivid in my mind.
It had a mammoth stage with maroon velvet curtains dripping with gold tassels. That stage was a magical place to be.
Mabel Goheen was my teacher and one year she decided Gene Anderson, a boy in my class, and I would sing for the Christmas program. To this day, I remember that night and the blue taffeta dress I mentioned earlier. I didn’t like that dress, I didn’t feel good in it, but it’s what I wore for my singing debut.
Together, Gene and I walked out on stage. He sang first and oh dear goodness, I still hear him:
I don’t believe in giants tall, in elves or fairy wings.
I don’t believe in Santa Claus, and all such silly things.
I did as directed, placed my hands on my hips, turned to Gene with a frown on my face and sang back to him:
Jerry Brown, I think you’re mean, to talk about Santa so. How can you say such dreadful things, that’s what I’d like to know!
After all these years, the melody still is with me.
Each year, among the ornaments on our Christmas tree is a bird nest that came from the farm where I grew up.
We think it’s a King bird nest, unique in that it contains snippets of yellow yarn from the afghans my mother crocheted. Mom tossed her scraps of yarn out the door and the birds found them and weaved them into their nests.
Dear readers – are you familiar with Tom T. Hall, the country music singer/songwriter? I love his knack for narrative.
Several years ago, Tom T. wrote and recorded a song titled, “Country Is.” It was a big hit for him. Here’s one verse:
Country is, sitting on the back porch, listening to the whippoorwill, late in the day
Country is, minding your business, helping a stranger, if he comes your way
Country is, living in the city, knowing your people, knowing your kind
Country is, what you make it, country is, all in your mind.
Well, I happen to think “Christmas Is,” is a lot like, “Country Is,” so I rewrote a few of Tom T’s lyrics. If you remember the tune, sing your heart out:
Christmas is, mistletoe and kisses
Sweet little misses, the jolly ole soul
Christmas is, angels and candy canes
Snow across the vast plains
Roads that lead you home
Christmas is, having a sweet time
Listening to the music, singing your part
Christmas is, gazing at the moon light
Christmas is, all in your heart!
I hope Christmas Is all of the above for you.