The holiday season is upon us.
I mean, officially.
Hallmark Channel has been showing Christmas movies for weeks, and I actually heard Christmas music on the radio two weeks ago. It’s just that now I can enjoy it all guilt free. I used to be one of those who would not listen to a single Christmas carol before Thanksgiving Day was over, but I have to admit that last year and this, I’ve snuck in some listening a little earlier. I’ve needed what the music does for my soul. And now, I can listen without shame. Without hiding. Without worrying that the littles were going to throw me under the bus about what I’d been listening to.
We have a gentleman who lives about a mile from here who decorates his yard elaborately every year. Except for last Christmas. Big trees had fallen on his home after a tremendous rainstorm, so while he was rebuilding, no lights. But this year, road construction going on in front of his house and all–he’s got them out. And he started lighting them up at night a week or so ago. I am so happy to see those lights again. They were missed last year.
This past week my next door neighbor has been putting lights up all over his house–eaves, around the windows, bushes, etc. It’s impressive. A few nights ago he was working on some finishing touches with his teenaged son. I teased my neighbor that he was trying to make all the rest of us look like slackers. He laughed and said his goal was to have lights like Clark Griswold (“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”). That made me laugh and of course I had to say, “Clark, the little lights, they’re not twinkling.” He replied, “Yeah,” nodding towards his son, “I just asked him if I could call him Russ, just for today.”
I love it. And I love that I can see their lights from where I’m sitting near the fireplace right now.
Well, no lights outside.
But turns out, we have decorated for the season.
And it was no trouble at all.
I first noticed this growing on/in my Bradford Pear tree a couple of months ago. When everything was green, it was hard to completely decide that one of these things was not like the other, but I had my suspicions. And sure enough, now that the tree that I chose because of its beautiful, flaming, fall foliage is in full “bloom,” I know exactly what that is.
I remember stories of folks going out in the woods and shooting down mistletoe to bring back and hang in their homes. I am delighted–downright tickled–that my front yard can boast such an old-fashioned Christmas decoration!
It is interesting to read about mistletoe. Turns out that clump was probably started over a year ago, from just a tiny little seed left there by a bird who likely ate a mistletoe berry from somewhere else. It is slow growing and has to function on its own for a bit until it can really root into its host tree and then it grows right there with the tree.
All concerns about whether this is harming my Bradford Pear aside, this plant that is growing as though it was always a part of the original tree all along got me to thinking.
About Christmas spirit.
It’s hard during dark times and times of loss and pain to have either of those. And yet, one day someone comes along and smiles or offers directions or compliments you on your shirt, and suddenly you are stepping a little lighter, if only for a moment. And then later on, it takes root, down deep in your heart and soul and it becomes an integral part of your being. Your way of life.
Hope, spirit, love, light–it’s a part of your very being.
And it stands out just as much as that mistletoe does on my beautiful Bradford Pear.
Tonight I’m thankful for those who light up the world with their holiday spirit–even if it might seem a little early to some folks. I’m thankful for laughter and funny movies and things that lift our spirits in the midst of times that otherwise might bring us down. I give thanks for surprises and discoveries that send me reading and learning and that make me smile. (And I’m thankful that I have a nurseryman/horticulturist in the family whom I can ask what is best for me to do for my beautiful tree and its parasitic friend.)
As we go about our days, may we never miss a moment to drop a seed that could help grow someone’s hope and Christmas spirit. For it is through those small kindnesses that we can light up the whole world, not just during the holiday season, but everyday.
Love to all.