Laugh at the antlers if you will, but laugh at your peril. That business-like look in the eyes of my beautiful calico is very real. Dixie Rose (short for Dixie-Rose-Center-of-the-Universe-and-Queen-of-all-She-Surveys) loves Christmas, and she intends to be ready when it arrives. Do not stand in her way.
Dixie arrived at my door as an unloved, four-month-old stray who became my first real pet. As a child I did receive a small painted turtle, but the poor thing met a most unfortunate end. My birthday puppy lasted only hours. A tiny but exceedingly enthusiastic black Cocker Spaniel, the pup terrified me and was sent packing by disconsolate adults.
Later, I raised a fox squirrel and laughed my way through four years with a prairie dog, but my relationship with Dixie Rose is of a different order entirely. I believe her to be the most beautiful and most clever creature on four paws. I don’t think she’s the most spoiled creature in the world, but we’re working on it – diligently. (more…)
Christmas comes differently to the country.
Twisted and threaded around and through twin pieces of rusted rebar that serve as mailbox supports, the plastic pine garland is older than several of the children who tumble from the school bus. Still, its shabbiness is apparent only to the mail carrier, or to the slippered woman trudging down the lane from her house, hoping against hope to find greetings in her box. From the road, the garland appears perfect, full and fresh. From a distance, even plastic communicates the determination and joy pulsing in the woman’s heart. In this house, she thinks, we will celebrate. We will mark the season. We will share our joy with you, the passer-by.
Farther down the road, a wreath made of vines adorns a gate propped against a fence. Its ribbon flutters in the wind, attracting attention, drawing the eye over the gate and into a pasture. There’s a brush pile, and some uncleared mesquite. A few trees, pushed over and left to die, wait to be added to the pile. No cattle roam, no stock tank or pond offers refreshment - not even a piece of rusted, broken-down machinery resists the despondent wind sighing across the field. (more…)
Johnny Carson said it, and I believed it. Every year, shortly after Thanksgiving, he began the Christmas season by reminding us, “There’s only one fruitcake in the world. It’s been passed around from person to person since time immemorial, and it doesn’t matter how hard you try. You’ll never escape The Fruitcake.”
I knew his little joke wasn’t factual. Every year multitudes of fruitcakes marched like overzealous Nutcrackers into the heart of the holiday season, overflowing store shelves and filling up catalogs. How essentially good ingredients – fruit and cake – could be combined into a “treat” that was both gummy and dry was beyond me. But the fruitcake people had managed to do it. Even though I preferred not to waste my holiday calories on something that appeared to have been circulating since the days of the Roman Empire, people kept pressing fruitcake on me. I wished there were only one. It would have been easier to escape the ghastly conconction. (more…)
There’s no escaping the scent of gentle chaos wafting through these last days before Christmas. “I loves me some Christmas,” says the woman to her companion in the checkout line, squinting at her notebook . “But I swear, if I never make another cookie, it’ll be too soon.”
I love cookies as much as the next person, but my sympathies are all with the woman. While it’s true this year’s preparations have been less time-consuming than usual because of my mother’s death some months ago, I still find myself pulling trays from the oven or standing at the post office thinking, I could stand some peace and quiet.
Especially, some quiet. The pressures of the Christmas to-do list are one thing, but this season reverberates with noise to the point of distraction. Hearing the Chipmunks’ version of Jingle Bell Rock piped through the produce aisle is more annoying than festive, and the irony of Silent Night drowning out conversation speaks for itself. While carols and seasonal songs blare away, children nag, parents fuss and impatient drivers fill shopping mall parking lots with the honking of a thousand demented geese.
Even at night, hours meant for sleep are disturbed by the ebb and flow of incessant, internal questioning. What have I forgotten? Who will be offended? Can we afford it? Will there be time? It’s little wonder by Christmas Day many are ready to throw out the tree with the wrapping paper and get on with it. Twelve days of Christmas? Stretching on to the Feast of the Epiphany? It seems a horror. Who needs more Christmas when we already are exhausted and drained? (more…)