Believe

Long ago, I stood at the window, my small fingers crossed. I prayed for snow to fall. A child who believed that with some divine intervention, she could will the fluffy flakes to float from the heavens above.
My hand lifted the iron latch, pushed the window open a crack. I leaned into the space. Cold air kissed my cheek. Stillness lingered and paused within the eerie morning’s quiet breaths. Tall, gnarly branches of oak canopied the street. The oaks waited too. Waited for snow to dress them in winter finery.
A voice broke through the silence.
“Hurry up girls,” our mother commanded, “We’re leaving in thirty minutes!”
Time meant nothing to me then. Yet, this morning I had reason to dash.
Mother was taking us to see the annual Christmas displays. I recalled the twinkling lights and little elves dressed in red and green that bustled about Santa’s miniature village. It was the reindeer I coveted. How do they fly?
“It’s magic,” our mother said.
Quickly my sister and I ran to the hall cupboard, opened it and grabbed our newly sewn velvet coats.
“Where’s my fur hat?” I asked.
Scrambling through the corners of the dark hall cupboard, I retrieved the faux fur hidden beneath my father’s plaid scarf. The hat was a gift; the muffler disappeared at school.
“Found it!” I cried out.
I watched my sister; her small fingers struggled to slip the shiny buttons through the stitched openings.

Gently,I took her hand and showed her how. We slipped stocking feet into fur-lined rubber boots, momentarily teetering, off-balance from the weight of our outerwear. My sister and I stood in the doorway; two winter snow-babies waiting for snowflakes to tumble.
Our mother, wrapped in Persian lamb, led the way as we headed toward the bus stop at the end of the block. As we waited for the 41st Street bus to appear, I looked up and peeked through the canopy of tangled branches that crisscrossed overhead. An empty nest sat tucked within a nook of hardwood. I wondered if Santa would leave a small gift for the birds to open when they returned in the spring. Perhaps a pine cone adorned with a strand of tinsel snagged from a glittering cast off Christmas tree.
The bus rolled up to the curb, we clambered on board, dropped our coins into the cash slot and took our seats.
“Hold on, Grace,” my mother tipped her head toward the shiny pole. As the bus lurched forward, my fingers held the metal pole, the other hand wrapped around my sister’s small one.
We watched as passengers came and went about the business of life. Near the end of the line, a dapper man stepped aboard. He wore a top hat and wrinkled pin stripe suit.
“Ladies,” he nodded and tipped his hat.
In one hand, he held a scuffed leather briefcase; in the other he held a bouquet of bud roses, white as fallen snow.
A second man stepped aboard; the white whiskers on his chin visible. His threadbare overcoat patched at the elbows. A red scarf scrunched about his neck. As he passed by I caught the acrid, heavy scent of cigarettes. Golden fingertips gripped the metal pole. When he smiled at us, there were dark spaces where teeth should have been. I looked away.
It seemed to take forever to reach our destination. As we rose to exit the bus, the man with the whiskers spoke,
“Merry Christmas,” he said and reached into his deep pocket, pulled out two wrapped candy canes, and grinned a toothless smile. My sister and I hesitated. The man smiled and reached deep into the other pocket and pulled out a plastic angel. Golden wings glinted and gleamed.
“This you must share,” he murmured. He reached out and handed the angel to me.
“Say thank you, girls,” our mother said.
“Thank you,” we whispered.
He nodded, “Merry Christmas, children. Don’t ever forget that once someone did something kind for you”
I gingerly stepped from the bus, a candy cane clutched within one small fist; a sugared angel twinkled in the other. How would I manage to share such a treasure?
Once again my mother took the lead and hustled us along to the Christmas displays. The miniature Winter Town hummed and bustled, alive with visions and sound. Holiday songs punctuated the scene. Candlelight shone through a small window as an elf stationed at a workbench hammered wheels onto a train. Another elf stood alongside and wrapped a gift. He placed it atop the growing pile of presents from Santa.
Bells jingled and lights twinkled, snow blew from a machine and dusted our boots. It was the reindeer I had come to see. They lay upon hay; their thick whitish coats brushed and glossed, their velvet antlers strong and upright. At the peak of the stable hung an angel, a heavenly guardian hovered overhead.
We heard the sleigh bells jangle and the familiar chortle of Santa’s low voice as he boomed,
“Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!”
Who wouldn’t believe in wishes that come true, magic, heavenly beings and a hope for snow?
***
That was a beautiful moment so long ago. The wondering child rarely surfaces anymore; the woman is grown. Time is fleeting now; it rushes by her. She remembers the man on the bus; recalls his curious words,
“Don’t ever forget that once someone did something kind for you.”
Grace still doesn’t understand human nature; choosing to believe in goodness. She understands the science behind snow, the necessary ingredients of weather systems. Still, every December she pauses at the window, opens it just a crack. She leans in toward the opening and waits. For what you ask? For the cold wind to kiss her cheek, for those first flakes to fall, for that magical feeling of love to wrap itself around her, for an act of compassion or a kindness shared, for Santa to arrive, and for peace on earth. Believe.
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Imperfect Beauty

Imperfect Beauty

It is important, this deep and personal need to create simple, beautiful spaces. Whether it is, cuttings gathered from nature, vignettes, gathered bits and pieces, sparkle and shine, or a simple lit candle shining brightly in the dark.  Our spaces comfort through their serenity, simplicity, and simple beauty. A book close at hand, a blanket to snug beneath, and a mug of hot tea or coffee to round off the bliss.  Why do we choose to nest the way we do, our individual styles often different?  Our homes tell our stories.  Look and listen.

It works like this.  The beauty and creativity that my mother possessed now passed along to me.  “Always look at an item with fresh eyes, see the beauty in the broken, repurpose a piece,” are her wise words.  Fill your spaces with only that which inspires you or tells a meaningful story.  Sometimes, our stories are sad.  For that reason, I choose to feather my nest with that which makes me smile, the pretty, the broken, the chipped, evidence of love and beauty. Imperfect is beautiful.

The hunt to discover an object of beauty is compelling and sourcing the area for an affordable price point is addicting, an alluring drug to the soul. No apologies, I seek beautiful store-bought and found items. Through writing, decorating, planting and doing, my heart heals. Comfort and joy await those who enter through the door.  Spaces are pretty, soft, unusual, old, and consciously created, staged for effect, purposely creating a careful lived in shabbiness of chic.

A promise to myself, many years ago, that when I became a mother or grandmother, I would be the best that I could be.  When they forgot, I remembered. My family would know love; there would never be a question or a doubt.  No one left, forgotten, dismissed, omitted.  Always, forgiven, always loved. I would have wished as much as a child and now as an adult, those wishing words sent forth on the chilly winter winds. Some can’t hear them, though. Perhaps, you will catch the whisperings in the silent spaces beneath the twinkling stars.

This holiday season I have left many of the Christmas decorations tucked away within the storage space. It will be a simple celebration.  There will be fewer family gathered round the table.  The children are grown and are beginning and continuing their own holiday traditions. In time they will appreciate that it isn’t about them, it is about others.  Love is always about others.

On display, there is a wooden Santa, a symbol of love and generosity.  A tinsel tree adorned with glass birds to sparkle in the winter’s light, a reminder that spring will surely come and there will be new beginnings.  The light will shine a little brighter.  Treats, decadent, rich and chocolate, sit in a glass bowl, delights for the soul.  Offerings.  Mini white lights fill the glass vases and miniature evergreen trees adorn a table.  A glittery box houses a miniature nativity, the Christmas Story. There is a boxwood wreath to grace the front door.  All is calm.

There is an undeniable presence of generosity, compassion, and kindness that gently fills the air.  If only the generous Christmas spirit could stay throughout the year. Note the hope that tenderly rises after the storm has passed. If only these heart-felt beats would live on and on. It is possible.  Love one another. We share this amazing world.  Stand for peace and harmony. Forget self, reach out and offer a hand.  Forgive.  Celebrate family and remember, love is always about others.

I wish you love and happiness.  Forgive another, start the journey to heal, reach out a hand in friendship, and surround your world with love and joy. Thank you for sharing your posts, stories, blogs, re blogs, tweets, “likes,” comments, and writing support.  All is bright!

Snow baby
Snow baby

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

x   ~ Grace