Silver Balls

White ground, blue sky, green tree, silver balls. Colors and calm, how has it happened that we are relaxed rather than frenzied in this last stretch before Christmas?

Agendas are still full, last weekend we brought wood to camp, cut our wild and ungroomed trees, framed a dried octopus, went to a Yankee swap, (for which the octopus was framed), decorated the tree for the house, packed and shipped gifts going far away, breakfasted with mother-in-law, had family over for dinner, and clung to a ladder as I reached to hang silver globes from the weeping cherry. We leave a few of these silver balls on the tree all year. In the summer they reflect the green grass and curious faces of those peering at them, a gallery of gazing balls.

But all this activity is done with a curious quietude. I think I like it. Gifts were wrapped and hidden away the start of December, and we have had the time to say, yes, let’s go see Harry Potter, or go for a walk, without feeling we should instead be getting ready. We are ready. And now have the time to look around and enjoy it.

Those silver balls on the cherry hang about fifteen feet outside the bay window. The balls hang suspended by monofilament, tied in a sad approximation of the knot my dad patiently, over and over, showed me how to tie. Inside the window the Christmas tree is a brilliant blaze with chandelier crystals from my mother, glass icicles, and clear old-fashioned tree lights. The bulbs have slim glass tubes that bubble away, creating constant movement, but gentle movement, unlike blinking electric Christmas lights. In the dusk they reflect off the window. The weeping cherry, with it’s silver balls, appears covered with a thousand gleaming spots of reflected light floating around its branches, Tinkerbelle and all her family come to visit.

In the distance, one large globe topped with snow hangs high, twice the height of the cherry tree, and we are reminded of an warm autumn night when a visiting granddaughter grabbed a fallen globe and swarmed up the tree, hanging it far out of range of being retrieved.

We throw another log in the stove, bundle up for the 17 degree air. Outside we blow out the lamp in the grape arbor, a gift from family who will be away this Christmas, and walk through our tiny village looking at lights. Some houses are dark. We miss the plastic candles and life size Snow White of the neighbor who passed away this year. Other houses that had long stood empty are festive and jolly for the first time. We walk to where our other house burned to the ground. There on the far side of the hole we placed a small tree and ran a long cord, using an ingenious timer system D’s father helped set up. It bravely stands guard, holding place until we rebuild.

The home stretch stretches on. Friends visit, family drops in, and those who cannot are here with us, saying Merry Christmas from a Christmas light timer, a globe on a branch, an outdoor lantern, a silver clamshell, a chandelier crystal, and a botched knot. To them, and to all, Merry Christmas.


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