Wednesday we had our first snow, the beautiful, wet, heavy kind that makes perfect snow people and snowballs. It’s the kind of weather I associate with the Christmases of my childhood, when my brother and I made snow forts and angels in our barnyard. I have such fond memories of visiting Santa at the Wyandot County Court House and sneaking into the living room with my brother to shake and feel the packages Santa left for us under the tree.
Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, ranking up there with spring, with its fringe of green on the trees and courageous crocuses poking their purple and yellow faces up toward the sun. Each December I fall in love with Christmas all over again, with its lights, red bows on greenery, and familiar carols.
The holiday started Friday after Thanksgiving with Bloomington’s annual lighting of the canopy of lights. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people gathered on the courthouse square sipping hot chocolate, visiting with Santa, and awaiting the magical moment when someone flips the switch. Ten–nine–eight–and so forth. As the countdown reaches one, we all gaze up at the sky. A second later, oohs and ahhs fill the air. The holiday season has begun!
I also love being on campus during December, attending the many holiday performances. There’s the Nutcracker, the Chimes of Christmas, and the Story of Christmas (music by Heinrich Schutz) performed in the rotunda of the Court House. It was stunning!
I.U. buildings are always beautifully decorated, both inside and out, making campus look like a greeting card. Things are quieting down now, though, as students take exams and leave for the holidays.It was sad to say goodbye to our Fulbright scholar, Maija, who is returning home to Finland. We had so much fun introducing her to many wonderful musical programs at IU’s Jacobs School of Music.
Elsewhere in town there are other signs of the holidays, for instance, the hot chocolate stands that sprang up last Saturday across the community. It was sufficiently cold enough to encourage sales. The stand we visited, sponsored by the Gerber family, featured a fire ring as well as very tasty cinnamon rolls. Proceeds from the stands went to Monroe County United Ministries to benefit those who are struggling to keep warm and fed this winter.
At home, it’s a time of baking and putting the final touches on homemade gifts. I’ve never been much of a shopper, except for the necessities, but I love to bake and knit. Most Decembers we make fudge, red and green butter cookies, biscotti, and an assortment of other cookies (frosted, chocolate chip pecan, and more). This year we also made turtles from pecans, caramel, and delicious German milk chocolate. We were too generous with the caramel, and had to make another trip to the store for more chocolate to cover it. Thankfully, I am not keeping track of the per turtle cost!
Whatever your holiday traditions are, I hope you are enjoying them to the fullest! The memories you create and the cheer you spread are priceless.