Friday, December 23, 2011

Pickles and Poinsettias

Another Christmas season is upon us. It is no secret that I love this time of year.
I love the smell of fresh pine and Christmas goodies baking in the oven. I love the Christmas tree in my living room with about a million colored lights on the boughs.
I love the ornaments we have made every year since Doodle was a baby.
I love the mistletoe hung in the archway.
I love listening to the primary children practise their songs for our Christmas meeting.
I can hardly listen to them sing the words of these joyous carols without getting all teary, no matter how many times I hear them sing the same song, over and over again.
I love hearing my own sweet little Sunbeam sing them at the top of his voice (and get all the words right) at the kitchen table.
I can't help but joining in at the top of my voice, too, much to the sharing of the other children.
I love driving around and seeing all the fancy light displays.
I love to hear my children's chorus of oooo's and ahhhhh's from the back seat as we approach a particularly magical house.
This year Mr Bird and I were lucky enough to enjoy The Forgotten Carols AND The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert, live. Both were amazing and added such a sweet spirit to our already festive season.
This year two of my favorite things seem so small compared to all the other sights and sounds of the season.
My lovely sister, Donna, gave me a jar of pickles for Christmas.
I could not have asked for a better gift in all the world.
You see, this was no ordinary jar of pickles.
The cucumbers were grown in her garden, hand picked and sliced with her own two hands.
She prepared the jars and brined the little lovelies with fresh dill and other yummies.
They remind me of the pickles my mom made when I was a kid, although my mom did not grow the cucumbers herself like The Amazing Donna does.
These mean so much to me probably because the last batch of homemade pickles I made did not turn out so well. I still have a dozen or so jars just sitting in the pantry untouched. They've been there for over a year, no one dares go near them.
Donna's pickles though? Like little slices of HEAVEN!
The next thing I am loving this year are the poinsettias.
Poinsettias have always held a special place in my heart.
My grandmother always had a live poinsettia in the kitchen during the holidays.
Some years the poinsettia lasted much longer than the Christmas season.
I remember one plant growing enormous, loving the warm air in the laundry room just behind the kitchen in the old house on Baker Street.
Then, after Mr Bird's mom passed away 4 years ago, one of our neighbors gave us a potted poinsettia in lieu of a vase of flowers.
Long after all the other flowers had faded and drooped and died, the poinsettia was just as bright and vibrant and full of life as ever.

photo by Precision Turf

In those bleak December and January days I needed that color and that life more than anything else.
Just the sight of it gave me hope in the everlasting life Christ promises to us all.
This year, my fabulous sister-in-law, Lisa, gave us a couple of poinsettia plants.
I love them more than I probably should love an object.
Again, I am brought to the knowledge of the gift of everlasting life The Wondrous Baby brought to all the world.
I see the vibrant red leaves and remember the blood He shed for me, for my silly sins that I somehow insist on committing.
I think of a love that brightens the bleakest, darkest times of our lives.
I love the Christmas season, I love the hope we are given each and every year, brought to us by a tiny baby born in the lowliest of circumstances the world has to offer.
I love the hope that when He comes again He will come, not as a babe in a manger, but in His great power and glory.
Then, every knee shall bow and tongue confess and my heart will burst.
I love Christmas because I love Christ.