Letter From New York November 28, 2014 The Day after Thanksgiving

It is the day after Thanksgiving and the Hudson Valley is still covered in snow, still mostly pristine. In the background, Christmas carols are playing and I have just finished, with the help of Nick Dier, who helps me keep my life organized, trimming this year’s Christmas tree.

It has become an annual tradition that Thanksgiving weekend is the moment when Christmas is ushered into the consciousness of Claverack Cottage. The tree is up and trimmed, the crèche sits on top of the television cabinet, where it traditionally sits, the big red wreath hangs on the red door, hopefully welcoming all who come to the cottage.

It fills me with a childlike kind of joy to do it. It is happening: Christmas.

Tonight I will consult my list and begin to organize the presents I have not already bought – some have already arrived and are sitting silently awaiting Christmas Eve. Some I will put under the tree tomorrow as they are already wrapped. Thank you, Amazon.

It is a special time of year, this magic movement toward Christmas. It is a time of beautiful waiting in the Christian liturgical season. It is a time when many seem to be of better spirits than they are the other eleven months of the year. It is a time when the faces of children come alight in a special way.

And outside my windows, it looks a lot like Christmas – a perfect day for decorating a tree and for putting up the wreath. On the tree we put as many old ornaments as we could find buried in the boxes that held them. Some date back decades and were from my mother’s house. Others I have collected in my wanderings around the country; many had been forgotten and brought smiles of delight to my mouth when they were uncovered. Ah, yes, the red velvet heart that hung on my mother’s Christmas tree, sent to me one year by my sister along with other ornaments that mother had hung annually from her tree. Oh and the little cable car picked up on a trip to San Francisco and the little tin plane picked up…somewhere.

It was fun and fulfilling to re-discover so many treasures, all of this inspired by my friend Mary Dickey, who gave me an ornament for my birthday. In red glitter it proclaims: True merriment requires wine and extravagant amounts of tinsel.

So I have worked to put true merriment into my tree and will toast it tonight with a good glass of a favorite Sauvignon Blanc and more Christmas carols.

A favorite time of year has arrived. I am going to do all I can to savor it.

May you, too, have a chance to savor the season and wrap yourself in the warmth of Christmas.

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