It's approaching the close of the year. Thoughts about the holiday season in New York City are on my mind. Who knew last December that a pandemic would sweep through the world and change our seasonal rituals.
In years gone by, my family enjoyed the week between Christmas and New Years Day. We visited 5th Avenue's brightly lit department store windows, the Rockefeller Center tree, and St. Patrick Cathedral but travel to NYC is complicated this year. Driving would be slow and tedious so a change of plans was needed. We decided to visit the Long Island Christmas tree at RXR Plaza instead of trekking into the City. The night was cold but we were bundled in layers. Few people were at the plaza and the ice skating rink totally closed. As we parked the car, I was amazed by the brightness of the moon against the darkness. The multi-colored Christmas tree and brilliant star tree topper were a show stopper, as was the reflection of the tree in the glass building windows. I stood in awe of the magnificent tree in front of me and kept flicking the camera to catch the best angle. My husband did the same. Even though my hands were freezing, I could not get enough of the beauty of the night sky and the glittering tree.
Quick Note: Turning on the Hallmark channel before bedtime, I was surprised to see the title of the show. "A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado" shares the story of a town administrator's quest for a magnificent spruce tree to be the town's showpiece. Perhaps this is a serendipitous stroke of writing luck.
Christmas Eve 2020: Winds stirred prepping for a storm. A loud howl broke through the night and the beautiful sound of "O Holy Night" floated from a TV broadcast. Bells rang noting the beginning of Midnight Mass. Masked choir singers and an empty church brought to mind how different this Christmas was.
Christmas Day 2020: Grey sky, light rain, and a distinct coolness called for a cozy stay indoors despite the fact that no tree decorated the living room. The 1940s manger scene and aged decorations were stored away in boxes for an upcoming move. Yet, hope remained. A couple of Zoom meet-ups and phone calls brought family together turning Christmas into an unusual but memorable event.
Different in context,
Leaves its indelible mark.
Families meet from distant corners.
Little ones bring a spirit of joy to the occasion
Spreading cheer as voices move virtually.
Happy Holidays to All!
The spirit of Christmas exists despite unusual situations and faces covered in masks.
2021 enters soon providing a new start and fresh possibilities.
I now turn my attention to the Poetry Friday Roundup at Irene Latham's blog, Live Your Poem. Irene brings us the conclusion of her last ArtSpeak, a beautiful red poem of 2020 with the haunting ending message: let love carry you across all hours.
For those who may have missed the unveiling of the Abundant Autumn Gallery, I offer a Gallery Walk through the1st edition and second editionfor your viewing pleasure. A new edition will appear soon to applaud the artists, poets, writers, and bloggers who present their artistic expression of a season that was Mother Nature's gift to the world during the pandemic.
Yesterday excitement was in the air. The day finally came when my family and I would take a final walkthrough of our new home in Virginia before the settlement (closing). These events were enough to place me on "cloud nine" but there was an additional surprise. After dinner, my husband, son and I would meet outside my daughter and son-in-law's house for a nighttime walk around their neighborhood to look at the Christmas decorations.
Gratitude Leads to Happiness
Delighted to become new homeowners in Virginia.
Anticipating seeing my little granddaughters, I decided to place a present in the red sleigh so Sierra would feel some pre-Christmas joy. After all, this would be our only face-to-face Christmas contact. Due to COVID-19 there would be no touching, no hugging, and no kissing. But a whole bundle of love would float from our hearts to theirs.
(Adapted fromThanksgiving Day Over the river and through the wood by Lydia Maria Child)
We arrive and I carefully place the tiny back with purple tissue paper and a picture of different American Girl dolls. I knock on the door and it opens alerting Sierra to put on her outwear for a walk. As she quietly walks out, I quietly announce, "There is a present in the sled." Excitedly, she moves toward the sled and peeks in. "What is it?" "I don't know." She reaches in to pull out the little bag and off we go for our walk in the dark, Sierra holding on to the handles of her little bag. IPhone flashlights light the way. Oohs and aahs echo in the darkness as we pass by different decorations, stopping to see the candy cane lights that flash and a manger scene. Each house had a different way of presenting its decorations. Each one sparkled in the darkness as tried to find the Star of Bethlehem that was supposed to shine in the southwestern part of the sky.
As we neared her house, a little voice said, "Grandma, can I open my bag?" We sat on the front ledge and I carefully took out the purple paper. To Sierra's delight, tiny purple boots appeared for her dollie. Mommy went inside to bring her childhood American Girl doll outside. "Samantha's dressed in her Christmas nightgown." Since it was cold outside, we proceeded to dress her in the purple items in the bag, a knitted sweater, hat, purse, and a tiny doll mask in purple. Then, Sierra found a tiny heart necklace for the doll. With bedtime approaching, we shared Samantha with Aurora who was watching the dollie dressing. "Time for photos." The family obliged and proceeded to arrange themselves for the photoshoot.
Going back to my new home this morning, I photographed a kitchen towel that my son gave me as an early Christmas gift. It sums my feeling and is a reminder that we can find happiness wherever we are.
I offer this slice of life for Two Writing Teachers even though it is late. We drove home from Northern Virginia today and it was an unusually long trip so I kept falling asleep while writing. Happy Holidays to Everyone!
Others notice nature's abundance on Autumn days and pause to reflect.
I invite you to the second edition of
Abundant Autumn Gallery of Artistic Expressions
On December 11, 2020, I unveiled the global gallery on my blog site.
Click here to see a glorious gallery of artistic expressions from around the globe.
Relax and take a second "awe walk" through Autumn, the season of gratitude.
Pause a moment. Listen to Autumn Song: Gratitude on Vimeo here.
It brings Mary Oliver's Fall Song poem to life.
Feel gratitude for Autumn who leaves us breathless with its radiant colors.
Give thanks for Autumn sunsets from around the globe.
Travel to Ireland courtesy of Kevin Foley.
Visit California with Steven Huang.
Discover a Chicago sherbet-sky sunset.
When the sun sets in West Virginia, nature brushstrokes earth in snowdrops.
Nature is mesmerizing and Autumn is its most glorious chapter.
Autumn colors pop in Colorado. - Cheryl Alba
And every moment of the season fills me with wonder and enchantment
at the gorgeous colors that surround me!-Ramona Behnke
Enjoy a pandemic outdoor getaway.
Letting go is an art that autumn trees show us, -@AnuMeera 2024
Music by Adrian von Ziegler - Autumn Forest
I close with gratitude for all those who helped create a successful second edition of the Abundant Autumn Gallery. The community of reflective writers has continued to grow since the first Reflect With Me Gallery of Artistic Expression in March 2014. A complete list of participants will appear at the final closing of the Gallery.
Thank you for spending some time reflecting on the beauty of autumn with its radiant colors. I look out the window seeing a monochromatic scene of soft white snowfall and feel the transition of autumn to winter. Nature brings a departure to a season that filled trying times with brilliance and inspiration to continue the walk of life.
For now, I join the Poetry Friday Roundup with this week's host, Michelle Kogan, artist and poet.Michelle's attention to detail is recognized in her post full of peaceful thoughts, delightful illustrations, and hope. Please join me at Michelle's blog site for more poetry goodness.
Years ago, I watched my Nonnie knead dough made of gooey batter. Her roller pin was long and heavy for a little girl, but her aged hands helped me roll the dough with precision. Years have passed, most recipes not recorded, but memories remain. I can still see the array of Christmas cookies always ready for little fingers to nibble on. There was an enormous dark closet that held foot-high honey dolls. Chewy biscottis, cherry-pieced cookies with lemon frosting, mincemeat confections, and many more Italian cookies were freshly-baked. My grandmother passed on her love and skill for baking to my mother who shared her talents with me. I shared my love of baking chocolate chip cookies with my daughter who joins my sister and me as we bake with my 3-year-old granddaughter. I usually shy away from rolling dough, but this year I thought I would try to make sugar cookies for my 3-year-old granddaughter. I left a box with the family when I traveled to Virginia for my newly-built home pre-settlement walkthrough. I found a Christmas video in Sierra's Google Photos album. She seemed to like Grandma's recipe for anise-flavored chocolate chip cookies, a variation on my Nonnie's chocolate chip Italian cookies.
I now move over to Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers with recollections of every bite of Christmas cookies I taste-tested these past few days. I plan to enjoy baking the other batches yet to come.
2020 has been a most unusual year. A pandemic raged. The world tossed and turned in a tizzy of fear. Isolation, virtual learning, and masks became part of a new normal way of living. Seemingly in an effort to counterbalance earth's sorrow, nature fairydusted landscapes. Autumn glowed brilliantly, opening a season of lustrous colors and awe-inspiring sights. With artistic flourish, Autumn became an influencer, nature a silent wonder. Trees, tipped in gold, tasted nature's kiss. Awe walks became a happening. A gallery of scenic treasures emerged.
I close with gratitude for all those who helped create a successful first edition of the Abundant Autumn Gallery. The community of reflective writers has continued to grow since the first Reflect With Me Gallery of Artistic Expression in March 2014. A complete list of participants will appear at the final closing of the Gallery. For now, I bid you a fond farewell. May your next walk outside, allow you to view life through a different lens of positivity and gratitude.
The next edition of the Abundant Autumn Gallery will follow shortly.
There will be another inspirational walk through Autumn