Delights: December 25 to December 31

December 25: Jeremiah lit the candles of the Advent Wreath: purple, purple, pink, purple and white. And after our feast he extinguished them again. “Look, Mom, how the candle smoke pools around the wick, in a soft circle.” We all leaned in as the smoke made its own wreath and dissipated. Today, on a day of delights, I relished how Jeremiah found and shared a delight of his own.

December 26: Mrs. Santa Claus was officially off duty. Bows and tags and paper and boxes were all packed up, leftovers promised hearty effort-free meals, and everything was quiet. So I upended a new 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle onto the sunroom table, cued up my history podcast and settled in. After a few blissful hours, I completed the edges and a few patches of color. Now, from time to time, I’ll expand the image — and reclaim a bit of quiet.

December 27: Imagine a young wintering apple tree, its branches, limbs and even its twigs circled by strings of tiny fuchsia lights. Imagine strings of other jewel-tone lights twined here and there. And at the tip of each branch — twenty tips? forty tips?— imagine more lights: gold, green, blue, white. The shimmering tree, here in Columbia, Missouri, amply earned its name: Magic. 

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December 28: I wiped my hand across my brow, tapped my nose, and tugged my ear. Kevin nodded. That was the “steal” sign. He reached over and grabbed a big Christmas gift-bag from his cousin. Mine now: a big red tee shirt that declared, “I’m dreaming of a comfy-cozy oh-so-merry Hallmark Channel Christmas.” Woo hoo! As the wooly Santa socks said, “Shhhhhh. Hallmark’s on!”

December 29: “You’re on fire you know.” Jo, gazing at the money she’d just earned for her first New York City story, replied, “I know.” “No, I mean, your skirt is on fire!” That’s Jo March. And, when I was eleven, that was me too. I didn’t want to be like Jo; I wanted to be Jo: impetuous and spunky; generous and self-sufficient; fearless and determined. Kind too. And I wanted to be a writer. Greta Gerwig’s Little Women was satisfying in every respect. (Even Professor Bhaer was attractive.) Best of all for me right now, though, was how beautifully the film captured the joy, tempest, loss and, yes, “fire” of a writing life.

TrJxHMtlTzqK9NbNiMD4fg December 30: Midway between Columbia, Missouri, and St. Louis, Kevin and I stopped at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton. The museum commemorates the site, in 1946, of Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech. It’s also the home of a 17th century church designed by Christopher Wren. Moved stone by stone in 1966 from its charred London ruin, the restored church elegantly anchors an astonishingly rich Churchill museum below. Three hours were simply not enough to absorb the scope of Churchill’s life and deeds, illustrated by well-placed artifacts, audio, video and words. Portions of the Berlin Wall, with sculpted elements by Churchill’s granddaughter, graced the park outside the church. In every respect, this visit was a thrilling surprise.

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The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, London, now of Fulton, Missouri

December 31: Laurna and I both love HGTV, especially when the host transforms homes into color and order and beauty. We also love being engrossed in a project and filling the air with talk. Throw them together and you get a picture-perfect closet of lovely purses, sweaters and bundles of friend-love.

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*** Send me your photos and delights! I’d love to post them. ***

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