I'd say that I'm listening for sleigh bells, except I've been hearing them for what seems like a month, this certainly akin to the accumulation of gifts in the guest bedroom, our wrapping HQ, that culminated Thursday with DW's trip to FedEx with a slough of last minutes packages to friends and family. There are still more to go out, including a couple local goodie bags for those away this holiday season.
I will admit to leaving the bulk to the pro. I do believe that she and my DM had a contest, albeit unspoken, for the greater number of presents to wrap. I did, however, attend to the packages for those people sharing my bloodline and our bed (cats excluded). Still, with the lion's share of ribbons and bows to manage, DW did a magnificent job, hard work only matched by the size of her heart.
Included on this year's list was the young farming couple I have mentioned in the past. DW had intended to make the delivery this morning, but in that she had still others to consider before readying herself for a small fete with friends, I took the reins, but not before phoning ahead. When the woman answered the phone, she said to meet them in the barn as one of their cows, having calved three days prior, was having a hard time with a distended udder and they would be trying to milk off some of the pressure for their Christmas Eve. I thought to take my camera, and packed it. I imagined a manger scene quite unlike another. Yet, by the time I arrived, the family had returned to their small farmhouse and I left the camera in the rig.
Young farm children have a certain nature. They are unaccustomed to company, and while excited when a visitor appears, they either hide behind Mama and stare, or run about in proximity yet dare not make real contact. Today, it was the latter and it lent an extra degree of chaos to the kitchen, yet they did manage to take control of the satchel I brought and began pulling the presents out.
"What shall we do with them?" the daughter asked her mother in French. The mother replied that they should be put under the Christmas tree. In English, the daughter asked me if I would like to see the tree. I was happy to.
The doorway from the kitchen to the living room was covered in a blanket, no doubt to keep the heat from their wood stove confined for efficiency in at least one area of the house. We passed through this barrier to see a bucked log of some diameter acting as the base for a sizable yet bare oak branch decorated with a good number of homemade garlands.
The daughter, at six years, said, "It's not really a Christmas tree. It's a limb."
"No, Dear," said I. "It is a Christmas tree, and I think it is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen." And I was not fibbing.
Although there have been times in my life that a dollar found blown into the weeds along a sidewalk seemed a bounty, I have before and since been blessed in so many unexpected ways. I have benefited from love and again recognized those riches in that barely warm living room.