Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Needful Things

It’s snowing here in Wisconsin.

Not much.  The big storm, such as big storms are these days, is not scheduled for another couple of days.  But there are flakes in the sky, big fluffy white ones, and a thin covering of white on the ground, enough to make the world a lovelier sight.  And don’t we all need that now.

The snow contrasts nicely with the blue lights on our house.

Every year I put up one long strand of lights across the front of the house, which is about as far as my Christmas decorating skills will take me.  They are always blue.  I have always loved blue lights, ever since I was in high school.  We’d keep the blues on backstage while the audience filed in for whatever play we were putting on that night.  They’re peaceful, blue lights.  Quiet.  Thoughtful.  And don’t we all need that now.

The house still smells vaguely of anise.

My favorite Christmas cookies are pizzelles.  If you’ve never had one, you should try to find them somewhere and correct that.  They’re flat Italian cookies – you make them in a pizzelle iron, which looks very much like a waffle iron only thinner and with different patterns.  People tell me that there are other flavors, but really there is only one: anise.  I suppose you can make them anytime.  There is never a bad time for a good cookie.  But they were always Christmas cookies when I was growing up.  My grandmother would crank them out by the bushel, and we’d eat them just as fast.  They taste good, and they remind me of happy times.  And don’t we all need that now.

There is a tree in the living room, waiting to be decorated.

It’s some kind of balsam fir, I think, and we cut it down on Sunday.  It was a cold, raw sort of day, and we had to drive practically into the next state to get to the new tree place we were trying out this year, but it’s a lovely little tree and we made it home with it still attached to the roof of the car.  Getting a real Christmas tree is one of those great traditions, one you hope you can continue.  When I was a kid it was an annual ritual – we’d pile into the car and drive out to where my dad’s high school friend George lived, and then both families would trek out to a tree farm to get their trees.  There would be a huge meal afterward, and then we’d drive home.  Our tree this year is nowhere near the size of those behemoth trees we’d come home with then, but it is a good size for us.  It smells nice.  Perhaps tonight we’ll drag out the ornaments and decorate it, and it will shine for us.  And don’t we all need that now.

The semester is ending.

Classes are over, finals are in progress, and soon all that will be left will be grading.  And then not even that – it will all be put away.  At that point, I can start to focus on Christmas, and try to get into the Christmas spirit of things.  That’s been an elusive spirit to catch of late, even without the outside world breaking in, but it’s something worth trying for, anyway.  And don’t we all need that now.

I do, anyway.

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