::FIRST FROST::

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Gloved Hands Holding Hot Chocolate

When the season turns crisp and cool; when there’s the tiniest bit of frost on the lamp post; when I grab a wool scarf on my way out the door “just in case,” and end up glad I did … those are the days I relish.

They take my mind a hundred different directions: shore up the house, bring in the wood, stock up on dry beans in the pantry for soup. Visualize where the garland will go, begin gathering little goodies to fill the “Christmas shoe boxes” that are shipped to children far away.

It’s the time of year when my eyes shine brighter, my step is quicker, and my to do list is longer. I have so many things to accomplish, and so little time to do it in!!

The Christmas movies start early for me — sometime just after Halloween. I keep them playing in the background as I move through the day. And, soon after, comes Christmas music. I know most people don’t want to hear those songs played outside the “four week Christmas window,” but I play them off and on year round. It’s like stepping back inside my favorite season anytime of year.                                                                                                       
So yeah, it’s November 9th, and the carols are playing in my house. Flannel pajamas are being sewn for all the Littles, and calls are out to handy-workers to get things done on the house before winter sets in.

Once the cold snap hits hard, “first fire” night arrives. Wood blazing in the fireplace, chili in the slow cooker, and friends gathered ’round for music, stories, and laughter. These are the things and the people that warm my heart.

Christmas tree – at least one, there have been as many as five – is installed, decorated, and the halls festooned with holiday swag. To me, too much is never enough. Let’s do more!!

Christmas cookies rolled, cut, and decorated by small hands. The gingerbread man’s leg broke off, tears start, but hey! Here’s an idea, buddy! Let’s give him a cast, and a crutch!  A laughing little boy, proud of his cookie. Problem solved.

Fudge making in the microwave, homemade pecan pies, peanut brittle, and my special “Nanny-Boo cookies.”

Holiday tins filled, ribbons tied, but no one enter the dining room! The sign on the swinging door, in big red letters, reads: “Nanny Clause’s workshop; boys and girls keep out!” The Littles are excited, but they grudgingly obey.

Advent wreath, three purple candles and one pink, marks the waiting for the Baby’s birth. Nightly prayers, with candles lit, keep us mindful of the meaning, and take us through each day.

A Birthday cake is made, white with white icing. Writing on the cake, “Happy Birthday Jesus.” The candle is a star.

On Christmas day, family gathers, and – just as it should be – children are the center of attention. Of course. It’s the Baby’s birthday, after all. Let us all be as little children this day; allow our hearts to fall open like old gates with loose latches. On this day … and every day henceforth … let’s hold on to what we’ve found in these moments. A feeling of connection, of love, of knowing that, while we’re part of something bigger, there is nothing bigger than Love. And that is what we’re made of.

But for today, I run out the door and grab my wool scarf. I smile, because there’s a nip in the air. I sense the beginning of something familiar and wonderful; I know it’s pulling me, and  I go willingly. I love every step of this journey.

 Snowflake

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