full circle in the hundred acre wood

Some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year I went to the dilapidated looking K-Mart store on 9-Mile Road looking for a roll of wrapping paper. It’s in one of those strip shopping centers that always looks about six months away from demolition. I remember a thin, sallow young woman in a Santa suit defeatedly ringing a bell for the Salvation Army near the store’s entrance.

I wandered through the aisles of Christmas decorations, nose itching from the heavy chemical residues of spray paint and ersatz snow. I paused at a display of battery operated candles and laughed. What a silly idea! Walked on. Stopped. Returned to the display. Giggled again. Put a dozen of them in my cart. Six red, six green, all with shiny brass bases and clear decorative candle type bulbs. Their cheap price was escalated by the two AA batteries required by each.

One family member, when I told her about the tacky, battery operated candles, said “What on earth were you thinking?”

But when these ersatz candles were placed, one by one, into each window, plus two on the old piano, surrounded by magnolia leaves, the little cottage glowed in the darkness with friendliness and the promise of shelter, a warm genuine fire inside, and the transformation of self through love on this evening when the better angels of our natures rule the roost.

Just before going to bed last night, I stood in the kitchen, unscrewing the small brass rings on each of the fake candles, replacing the batteries in each one. Before we leave the house this afternoon, Buck and I will put the candles in the windows, turning them on just before we go out the door.

We’re attending communion services at Christ Church this afternoon. Young Alex will be singing in the Canterbury Choir. His mom will be a chalice bearer. It’s known as the “most child friendly” of the Christmas Eve services today, short, filled with music and a manger scene. I plan to sneak in a basket of miniature cinnamon muffins to share with our clan and those nearby just after the last song is sung.

Then we will all head for the lovely pine forest, unlatch the gate, over the creek and through the woods, to the cottage, and oh! It will seem as though grandma is waiting for each of us. See the candles in the window?

Merry Christmas, all y’all, and thanks for enriching my life. My cup runneth over, and I wish the same for each of you.


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