After Christmas

 

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Happy Boxing Day, my friends.  On Boxing Day we celebrate the simple truth that we have survived another Christmas.

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Our Jewish friends might also celebrate that the Christmas season is winding down, but they are quite busy with Hanukkah, which just began on Christmas Eve this year.  They will celebrate their third night tonight.

In Europe, today is also St. Stephen’s Day and the Christmas celebrations of family gatherings and celebratory food and drink continue.

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“Boxing Day” has lingered in our culture, though few of us really remember how it began.  It’s more fun than Christmas in the UK, I’m told, and is a day for giving gifts to important people in our lives who aren’t necessarily ‘family.’

In past times, the wealthy gave ‘Christmas Boxes’ of food and gifts to their employees and vendors.

Some of us still remember the postman with a little something this time of year… and ours has certainly earned a little appreciation!  We’ve had packages left at our door before 8:00 AM more than once this month.

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Some of us still observe the old “Twelve Days of Christmas,” and will keep our Christmas lights up and plan gatherings with friends and family through the first week of January.

Our Christmas tree is usually still up as January draws to a close.  After all the fuss of putting it up, one may as well enjoy it until it dries out, don’t  you agree?

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Others await this special shopping day each year to score the best deals of the season while  retailers try to clear out their remaining holiday merchandise.

Your inbox, like mine, is probably already flooded with special messages from every online retailer with whom you do business and a few more hopefuls….

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But many of us with extended families close by will find themselves traveling to one or another home today for ‘second Christmas.’  We’ll be visiting with those we missed, or who missed us, yesterday.   We won’t find ourselves shopping, but probably will have a completely enjoyable day with loved ones.

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Whatever you do today, please enjoy the day. 

Allow for a bit of relaxation after the rigors of the Christmas shopping/ cooking/ decorating/ card writing/ crafting/ party/ season we’ve just finished.

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December always feels like a marathon to me, and I push myself to ‘get it all done’ by Christmas Eve.  Now it’s finally time for a bit of rest and enjoyment.

Maybe you feel that way too, and have put away your rolls of wrapping paper and unused cards with the same sigh of relief which escaped my lips yesterday afternoon.  What’s done is done, and I’m not going to be tempted to lose these last, sweet days of December doing much more.

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My first gardening catalog of the new year arrived on Christmas Eve.  What a sweet gift postman ‘Santa’ left for me on Saturday!  It had a nice selection of ‘New’ 2017 introductions to savor.

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That said, I can feel the joyfulness of ‘Boxing Day’ in this morning’s light.

Another Christmas has come, and now we can sit back and enjoy those things  which matter to us most.  We can gather with loved ones if we want, but we’re also free to head of to our favorite chair with a good book or catalog.

And there’s finally time to take a nap.  And of course, to head back out to the garden to simply enjoy the beauty of it all….

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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The Robins’ Promise

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I stepped outside late this afternoon to check the mail, and found the front garden aflutter with a flock of robins;

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happily hopping around in search of food, their happy society was startled by my unexpected presence.

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They thought they had the garden to themselves on this uncomfortably cold day.  Thank goodness for day long golden sunshine.  This last day of February has been our coldest day for several weeks.  Bundled in hat and coat, I still shivered while walking briskly up the drive to collect the mail.  And the robins scattered, looking for cover as I passed.

Edgeworthia blossoms have begun to open.

Edgeworthia blossoms have begun to open.

Bright sun has been pouring in through the windows all day; the sky clear and deeply blue.  A lovely day, but seeing the wind, and knowing the temperature, had kept me indoors.  But out I went to the mailbox, enjoying the happy robins, and looking for any little change to show the progress of spring.

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The bulbs are still shivering, petals closed tightly against the cold.  It is as if the whole world is still waiting for warmth before daring to progress any further into the season.

Mahonia

Mahonia

But I wanted to show you these happy robins, their very presence evidence that the season is turning, despite the frigid air.

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So the mail came in, and I headed back out, camera in hand, to take portraits of the robins.  Crafty little ones, they are so fast!  Several flew off just before I clicked the photo.  The ones on the ground were a little more patient, perhaps distracted by listening for worms below their feet.

Where the robin was.... only a second before....

Where the robin was…. only a second before….

I wandered the garden in search of them, and in search of an opening daffodil, or some new sign of spring’s unfolding.  My fingers went from cold to numb, and the chill wind became more persistent in seeking its way in past my jacket.

A Columbine beginning to emerge from the frozen Earth.

A Columbine beginning to emerge from the frozen Earth.

But looking to the trees, glowing in the afternoon sunlight, I saw the sign I sought. 

Look closely at the tips of the branches… the reddening tips.

Buds on our trees are swelling, finally; and preparing to open with their early flowers and leaves.  That misty red glow around the trees’ crown is as much a promise of spring as the flock of robins gathering in the garden this afternoon.

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The robins seem impervious to the cold.  This stoicism in the face of wind, rain, sleet, snow and ice commands my respect for these fragile beings. 

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They carry on, chattering to one another, from early until late.  They know, even when I doubt, that spring will follow, and provide perfectly for their every need.

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Their chirping and hopping, shy flights from shrub to shrub, and determined hunting for food warms my heart; even as my fingers stiffen in the cold afternoon wind.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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