Love and Joy

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

I woke this morning in a strange bed; disoriented, I opened one eye and then another sore and blurry orb. Above me hung a score of silver and gold ornaments, mounted to the ceiling with clear push pins. It was not an unpleasant surprise and one I might well have expected as I was, after all, in the home of my oldest daughter, better known as the “Designing Woman,” and it was also, the day after Christmas.
We had left Senoia early Christmas day, gliding through our quaint little town where not even a mouse stirred. Not a single car was parked along the streets, not a single group of Walking Dead fans were bunched together against the cold, and no one was perched in the pretty sleigh at the end of Main Street, across from the closed-for-the-day coffee shop, waiting to have their picture taken in their bright holiday wear.
The sky, after days and days of foggy mornings, was finally clear with stacks of white striated clouds piled one upon another against the cold, blue heavens. Beautiful Christmas Morning! Our car was packed with yet more gifts to be exchanged, a thermos of hot coffee, a bone-in Honey Baked ham, and one completely untouched, crusty-topped Chess Pie, my son-in-law’s favorite. We were on our way to Bluffton, South Carolina where a small group of relatives would gather for another lovingly prepared feast. We would need to make good time as the meal was scheduled for two p.m.
Christmas Eve had begun in earnest at our home around 6:50 p.m. when my youngest daughter and her crew had arrived after the five o’clock church service. They were bearing armloads of gifts to be added to the mounds of gaily wrapped (mostly “bagged”) presents under one of two trees in either the living room or the dining area of our small home.
We knew that getting such a late start on the festivities would necessitate keeping a tight schedule so that we could eat, exchange gifts, visit for a while, perhaps enjoy dessert, and then say our goodbyes around 10 p.m. We had to hit the road early the next morning, Christmas Day.
Ah well. “The best laid plans of mice and men,” I believe the quote begins. This was not accounting for my granddaughter Erin having brought the hilarious, roll-in-the-floor new game “Tele-something or other!” Designed along the guidelines of the old-fashioned parlor game called “Gossip,” we played and howled like deranged banshees until the clock struck midnight and we had to call a sad halt to an excellent evening of GLEE!
As usual I raced around filling bags with last minute additions to what we would be taking to Kim’s home on Christmas, and as we would be staying for an indeterminate time, I kept adding this or that to the bulging suitcases as Bill eyed the growing stacks with alarm.
“This is not a safari to the deepest, darkest jungles of South America. We aren’t leaving on the Queen Mary,” he offered as I scuttled past carrying armloads of bags. “This is just trash,” I mumbled behind the great mound of tissue paper, trailing shining silver ribbon. “We need to leave the place at least neat, if not clean!”  My mother, an army wife who was used to moving entire households in less time than it was taking me to get ready for the next days’ trip, would have shuddered at my lack of planning but would have applauded my efforts to at least “straighten up.”
Finally, after five hours of sleep and the same number of hours of travel, we made it safely to our South Carolina destination. An explosion of Christmas joy greeted us when Baby Bear and Mugsy were the first out the door to welcome us with their version of “puppy joy.” Lots of happy barking, dancing and jumping straight up from all fours. I realized with a sinking heart that for the first year ever, I had forgotten to bring these precious little creatures a Christmas gift! I don’t think they noticed. In the truest spirit of Love and Joy, they were simply happy to see us.
Inside, it was a Christmas Wonder Land. For a moment of jaw-dropping awe, I stood just inside the cottage door, turning my head from left to right and back again, trying to take in all the bright, sparkling, amazingly colorful decorations. How one woman could possibly put together such an array, such a dazzling display of holiday beauty is beyond me. Even the huge blazing fire which filled the giant television screen added to the delight I experienced when walking into my daughter’s lovely home. “Well, Darling Girl. You have outdone yourself!”
So that is where I awoke the Day After Christmas. A gorgeous wreath hung over our heads in harmony with the silver balls dangling from the ceiling. Not too much. Tasteful. Fun.
I prepared myself to step into the guest bath. Brushing my teeth in the red and white themed room was a delight. Striped candy-cane towels hung ready to use and a giant poinsettia graced the antique wash stand. Above and to the left, a silver deer head was on the roughhewn shelves against the whitewashed shiplap wall. Beautiful way to start the morning!
You can Never, Never have too much Christmas!
Enjoy the remainder of your holidays, dear reader. I know we will. We are, after all, surrounded by beauty and more importantly, by Love. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2018!




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