I recently spent a glorious week basking in the Florida sun with my daughter and some of our dearest friends. The trip was an early birthday present for my daughter and her friend who have been asking to make this trip together since they were in the First Grade. The forecast for our time there was absolute perfection and the weather lived up to its promises.
We spent our days swimming in grandma Mary’s pool, sightseeing & discovering different beaches. I am a sun & sand lover by nature but honestly, my favorite thing about the beach is the ocean.
I was reading recently about WWI and about the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914. It was a little over 4 months into the war when on December 7th, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war in order to celebrate Christmas. Although the warring countries refused any official cease-fire, on Christmas Day the soldiers in the trenches decided to declare their own unofficial truce.
On Christmas Eve of 1914, the sound of German and British troops singing Christmas carols to each other could be heard from across enemy lines. On Christmas Day, German soldiers emerged from the trenches, crossed through no-man’s-land, (a desolate area comprised mostly of decay and rotting corpses) and approached the Allied lines while calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues.
The news sears its images into my head and slices my heart into tiny little pieces. Twenty six of them to be exact. The concrete steps that led them towards Light are now darkened by the shadow of death. As a hallelujah chorus began to ring out, the sound of gunfire drowned it out, bullets spraying over a congregation that would exchange their celebration song for cries of mercy.
Lying mangled on the floor are lives and hope extinguished.
And we rush to make sense of it all. To tidy it up and put a label on it so that we can process it and move on. We’re always so ready to move on.
Our giant oak tree came down today.
The city sent out a crew, on our request, to take out the gigantic tree that sits near the road and is eating into our driveway. Standing on our sidewalk, all you can see for blocks is an army of trees lining the boulevard, standing tall and proud, keeping guard like a watchman.
It’s a beautiful stretch of foliage that in the summer gives way to a canopy of lush green leaves and in the fall, with the late afternoon sun gently resting on them, takes your breath away with the dazzling hues of crimson red, golden yellow and burnt orange. Honestly, I will miss the grand old oak. But we have had too many close calls and several accidents involving people trying to back out of our driveway. It was starting to impede with everyday life.
I love getting gifts. Some of my favorite gifts to get are little things that don’t cost very much money but that I rarely buy for myself. A magazine on fashion or decorating, a bottle of new nail polish or a new Starbucks mug from their “You Are Here” series.
But to tell the truth, what I love almost as much as the gift itself is the way it’s packaged. I love things that are presented beautifully and lovingly. That can mean a simple piece of twine wrapped around a magazine or a cute little chalkboard tag attached to it. One of my favorite gifts I ever received was packaged in a brown paper sack, threaded at the top with some twine and tied into a tidy little bow. Inside was tea, a bag of fresh cherries & some chocolate. It was so simple and so thoughtful.
“Brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things…”