My Christmas tree this year was especially beautiful. The blinking lights I bought the year I did Christmas for my mother, the year she was diagnosed with cancer. There are ten or twelve settings, including “running,” blinking and a slow fade. There are three spools of a dark burgundy and gold ribbon. Two spools wind around the tree. The other spool is shared between the garland over the front door and the garland over the arch between living and dining rooms.
I also used some of this ribbon to make a new bow for my front door wreath. I buy a fresh cedar and pine wreath every year, adding my bow and the bell that used to hang on my grandmother’s back door every Christmas season. Her door “stuck” a little so that the rough push needed to open it always sent the bell crazy, chiming the announcement of every arrival. Now it is my front door, and the push needed to close it, that sets the bell to dancing.
Over the years, of course, I have collected ornaments. There are the cinnamon dough stars that the boys and I made many years ago, still smelling faintly of spice. There are the gold and clear plastic suns, announcing the return of the Sun. There are the orange slices I dried for one of the first Christmas trees after my return to the States. There are the golden glitter beads I bought in Europe.
A few years back I went lavish and bought boxes of ornaments in coffee, mocha, and burnt orange. And last year began a new tradition: an ornament gifting which has netted us four new ornaments in the past two years: cowboy boots, a cactus, an elephant, and a suitcase. The golden browns and deep greens complement the tree and the images pique our imaginations.
In the New Year, we pulled up the arbor that has held up our climbing rose bush these past twelve years. For the first time, March will not bring small white roses to our side yard. Soon, we will have a “moon gate” and new plants. But for now, there is a patch of dark soil and a clear view of the iris.
Soon, too, there will be a new bike rack and four bikes ready for use. But for now the bikes live on the back deck or in our living room. We bike the neighborhood, checking out old warehouses and new construction. Our cheeks grow rosy as even in Houston, the air holds a chill. We bike to Starbucks, and then home, where waits for us the Sunday New York Times, and in the evening, another episode of Black Adder.
“Sir,” son the younger tells me the next morning, “I have a cunning plan….”