The snow falls quietly. And slowly all is covered and blanketed in whiteness. The cold of winter is in the air, and it gets in your bones when outside.
There is the anticipation of the holidays and all of the hopes and dreams of Christmas that come with the onset of the cold weather and the shortening of days.
Memories always harken back to a time of wide-eyed innocence when all of the frenzy of the season added to the joy-filled excitement of December 25th. The sights and sounds and smells that enliven the senses and build up hope.
The scent of pine always filled the house after the Christmas tree was wrestled into the living room. Then came the ritual of decorating the tree, the stringing of lights all around, hanging the fancy ornaments on just the right bough, draping all with the fine silvery tinsel. And night after night you gazed upon the colorful lights and ornaments and sparkling tinsel knowing that Christmas Day was coming soon.
And the house always seemed filled with the warmth and the aroma of fine foods and cookies.
There were people scurrying about on the streets with packages, bags filled with more packages.
All of it built such an eager anticipation of the coming day, Christmas, the day that Jesus the Christ was born in a manger.
A most wonderful time of the year, indeed.
Memories can be such a fine thing. But also they can be laden with pain and regret and guilt.
There were so many years when Christmas and the holidays were nothing but a blur of drunken revelry. There were parties, and crazy times, that seem as though they would have never been as much fun without alcohol. But there were far too many special times and intimate moments that were ruined by alcohol, and sadly those times and their memories are far too prevalent.
And still, even though those memories are filled with pain, somehow alcohol seductively beckons.
It can be such a difficult time to stay sober. And it is wondered how it is that family and friends who witnessed the destruction that alcohol has caused in times gone by can be so quick to casually offer a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, a shot of alcohol.
But now there is a network of new friends and a sponsor. And day after day life feels so much better on the journey of sobriety.
It always brings a peace and a certain comfort to spend some time, even if it is only a brief time, in a church.
The advent wreath hangs from the ceiling, partly made of pine boughs, the scent fills the church with some of the old fond memories of Christmas. And the lit candles of the wreath mark the countdown to the coming feast of Christ’s birth.
It is so easy to get lost in all of the fast-paced distractions of the season. The sales, the gifts that need to be bought and wrapped, the obligations to friends and family, and the rest of the end of the year business that needs to be addressed. All of these things take up so much time that often the truth of Christmas is forgotten.
It is nice to spend just a brief time in church, if for no other reason than to say thank you.
It is quiet in the church. And it is a most wonderful time of the year.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all.
Bob lives on the high plains of Wyoming. He is a cradle Catholic, a geologist by training, and consummate wanderer of the backroads with camera and guitar. And with an ongoing struggle with alcohol, he has found relief in a 12-step program and his Catholic faith.