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.

It is 38 degrees at 7:30 a.m. in Senoia this morning as the sun begins to spread its orange and pink rays through the small stand of trees just behind our house. It promises to be a gorgeous day, and it’s about time. We have had our share of gloomy, rainy, unpredictable days since Thanksgiving, which was just . . . yesterday, right?
Well, there is actually nothing on my schedule today. I look at the bedraggled 12-month calendar hanging from the cabinet door in the kitchen; I double check. Nope. No mid-morning writer’s conference with Lauren McGuire. No. Just yesterday we completed our discussion of the last edits for her first exciting book “Mantle of Light.” No doctor’s appointments underlined twice; no book I have to speed read—I did that yesterday afternoon in order to be prepared for last night’s book club at Carrie’s house. When I arrived, my eyes were still red and blurry—one of the saddest books I have read in ages. “The Light Between the Oceans” will pull your insides out and tie them into a giant knot. I’m going to read some Celestine Sibley Christmas stories in front of the fire with a nice cup of that Comfort and Joy tea my sister Deb brought last week. Oh. Wait.
It is December 18 and I have yet to mail a single Christmas card. Actually, I have not addressed a single card. There is a growing pile of missives from folks who had a lot less on their plates this month than I do . . . obviously. Oh, and I do so Love, Love receiving those beautiful reminders that folks are thinking of us for at least the few moments it takes to offer their greetings of this sweet, sweet season. OK. Write and mail Christmas Cards today! But first, there is a fine dusting of flour lying on the floor in the kitchen where Bill and I had measured, sifted and mixed a batch of his mother’s famous wafer thin Tea Cakes, a staple in our cookie jar at this time of the year. A tradition. Sweep kitchen floor.
Though we got a late start on cookies and cards, we were the first house on our entire street to have icicle lights on the roof and greenery draped along our very wide front porch. I forget every year just how much prickly garland it takes to decorate our porch, and no matter what other important decorating job I may be involved in, Bill seems to think I can drop everything and help him decide exactly where each swag needs to. . . well, Swag!
When it is all done; two trees showing off ornaments collected over a 50-year span crowd the branches and the mantle is designed and dressed as well; this year a silver deer head and glittery antlers share the space with gold and white poinsettias. Who could have guessed that deer antlers would replace Santa, pine cones, and cedar branches or my famous Della Robbia fruit arrangement?
Times change. Old traditions give way to new. A younger generation adds and subtracts their own things to be cherished. Happily, some things about this special season never change. The “reason for the season.”
Sunday morning Bill and I met special friends Cheri, with her daughter Lauren, who with her daughter Lilly shared what would be a magnificent Christmas program—“A Festival of Lessons and Carols” presented by The Senoia United Methodist Church. We were honored to be their guests in this timeless setting; traditional wooden pews, richly colored, stained-glass windows, bound hymnals, and advent candles along with the age-old tradition of speaking the Lessons and singing the Carols of the birth of Christ. Together these traditions offered a tangible sense of well-being, and Sunday evening we enjoyed another wonderful program “The Gifts of the Season” sung and performed by members of the Sharpsburg Baptist Church from 2 to 92! Another joyful occasion, but a long day, filled with blessings and followed by a very early bedtime. Sigh….
Our calendar also shows evidence of warm pot luck dinners at our church and at the Senoia Historical Society Museum; the very wonderful Senoia Candlelight Tour of Homes, the yearly Merchants Open House (but sadly not our annual Christmas parade . . . called off as a deluge arrived instead of floats and crowds and the tree lighting ceremony). A fabulous open-house at the Pearmans, with elbow room only! And I did finally make time to deliver a cake to my friend Sheridan’s home just before her family arrived for their annual get-together. I also made time to sit and visit with her and husband James and to admire her decorations as well as to taste a big spoonful of her special (and spicy) tomato/beef dip. Impromptu visits at this time of the year are also a wonderful tradition. My neighbors, the Shrivers, brought a lovely, live poinsettia the other day and we caught up on their plans for the holiday. I wonder. Why do people not “drop in” on one another anymore? Well, that is fodder for another day. No time or space to delve into that topic now.
Oh My. That reminded me. Today I also need to wrap those cookie tins with the shortbread cookies and deliver to my neighbors. Add that to Sweep kitchen, Write cards, and Wait!! I promised Bill we would make it to the Gym today. But I really need to pick up the embroidered, personalized gifts from Serendipity and exchange the cute little outfit for my great-nephew Sam. Can he possibly be four months old! Dinner Wednesday with my daughter and her husband Joel whose birthday was Sunday but we will be late in celebrating! There are at least three more parties on the calendar. The Writer’s Guild was a hoot last year (karaoke and white elephants) and promises to be filled with great food and greater friendships this year—a perfect combination, obviously a popular new Tradition.
But let us never forget why we celebrate. The service Sunday morning closed with this lovely reminder:
“Green and silver, red and gold, and a story borne of old. Peace and hope and love abide as Christ draws nigh. Amen”