Heaps and Heaps of Snow Before Christmas • December 2020 | Notes Archive »

Elm Street

I love snow. I know — It’s difficult, cold, slippery, gets dirty, makes my husband grouchy, but some remnant memory triggers a happy reaction, as long as everyone meant to be home is home. It seems snow before Christmas is less common than in was in my early years, but the other day it snowed and snowed and snowed. This is our first major storm here on Elm St, and it is beautiful. We were very cramped in our Middle street neighborhood — very close to the road and the other houses. Here we have longer views and the house is on a rise above the road. Lovely. We watched all day as it piled up, had some simple meals, found chores needing attention, and the world changed after all the days of late autumn brown.

Holiday Mantel

Christmas is just us this year. Everyone is spooked, and with good reason. I learned that my decorating of the house is not for others. I do it for my own spirit. Again, a holdover from childhood? Church was the centerpiece of childhood Christmases. My mother was the top soprano at our parish church, and her rendition of the Ave Maria held the congregation spellbound. The church organist, Mrs. Schmidt, was a dynamic musician, waving her arms and singing along with her choir. It is a vivid memory — the glow of candles at Midnight Mass (when I had finally achieved the appropriate age), the vestments, the massive display of poinsettias on the altar steps, the live greens and trees, and the music. During my high school years, my father converted to Catholicism, and the year he accompanied us to Mass was deeply moving. Christmas of 1961, I got engaged to my first husband, John Schoemer. I remember my diamond ring sparkling among all the other lights in church; a proud moment. That church and its rituals and celebrations resonates in my heart and always will.

Doll Glass Cabinet

Now in old age, and without our parents, with our children spread all over the country, we dig deep for the real meaning of the season. Planning our little meal is a highlight. I guess we will cherish each other, Lizzie, our 5 year old Australian Shepherd, and Boo Radley, Acworth cat, and join all the other spirits lingering in the 200 year old house. Recently, a nice neighbor arrived at our door with the most extraordinary gift. Her best friend had lived here in the 1940s and at some point did the most charming watercolor of this house. They conspired to gift it to us. What a treasure !! Sometimes the living spirits emerge and make themselves known. This dear piece will remain here long after we are gone. We salute Hazel and Ann this Christmas, and thank the angels who delivered us to the door of this beloved place last February. It is rare to find one’s heart’s desire at the doorstep of 80 years old (January).

Festive wishes to all of you.
Celebrate your delightful remnants of the past — material and spiritual -
pray for the end of Covid, and all will be well.
Merry, merry Christmas.




Pumpkin Pie