The fog that hung over Eimon Ridge as day broke the other morning left its signature in the hoar frost growing in the damp December chill.
Each inch of the fog’s blanket withdrawal piled another layer of icy crystals to decorate the otherwise-dark limbs and branches protecting the rural soil under their canopy.
I’ve never been among those who used that fake white flocking on our Christmas tree, and certainly don’t fault anyone who’s found joy in doing that. But I’ll take a day when hoar frost or snow brightens the trees outside with its natural flocking.
Wife Dee already had made her usual pre-dawn trek to coax young minds to hunger for learning by the time I saw the December holiday postcard. Having been raised in Florida, she expresses a special appreciation for all that’s snow which those who’ve spent a lifetime here might otherwise take for granted.
She’s never asked for diamonds, saying she finds the most valuable diamonds sparkling in the snow that dances to its resting place on our farm’s soil.
The day became even brighter for me as I opened an e-mail from her to read what she saw in the trees during her drive to the school. In the canopy over the ridge, she wrote, were the things that have made her life here special.
“Winter’s fireflies dazzled my drive from our house to all along Eimon,” she wrote.
Some people consider themselves fortunate for having gifts beneath Christmas trees; we’ve found those gifts to be good but especially are excited by such gifts left on our ridge’s trees.
This truly is a season of gifts, in many ways.
We see the gifts in photographs of children excited (some, admittedly frightened, though) visiting with Santa Claus.
We see them in the kindness we open for each other and in the spirits of giving to each other.
We hear them in every note of a caroler.
We see them in every cardinal, finch and sparrow at the feeding stations.
We see them in the year’s bounties filling barns and household larders.
We feel them in the joy we find with loves and relatives around feast-laden tables.
Winter itself also arrived as a gift, that solstice day giving the year’s time of shortest light but sending us into days of ever-growing light.
We’ll look forward to sharing hope in a new calendar year; we’ll join family and friends across the world celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah.
We’ll raise toasts to honor our health and goodwill, and to honor those who’ve passed before us.
And then, the holidays with all their excitement and joys will pass. But gifts always will be found in the trees.
— Scott Schultz