“One touch of Christmas makes the whole world kin.”

Yesterday was winter. Frost covered the windshield. Today is late fall at 54˚with rain. I could see my breath yesterday. Today a sweatshirt is more than enough. I have a couple of errands and a bit of shopping. The shirt which arrived yesterday is missing. I have checked the whole house and the yard except for the back forty. A gnome has met its demise. I found fluff hanging out of Nala’s mouth then I found the body bereft of stuffing. This year outside is Christmas. Inside is batten down the hatches.

The box with presents yet to be wrapped and sent is in the bathroom. I shut the door when I leave. When I’m home, I listen for the bells wrapped around the top of the box. When I hear them ring, I know Nala is afoot and an angel got its wings.

The lights in my front yard are lovely. The ornament tree is highlighted. The little library is covered in lights. The front door has a string of snowman lights around the giant Merry Christmas metal ornament. The fence shines with colored bulbs. Everything outside is festive.

When I was a kid, December was the longest month. It crawled from day to day. It seemed Christmas would never come. As we got closer to vacation, the school day got longer and longer. I sat with my eyes glazed over through lesson after lesson. My attention was elsewhere. The last thing place I wanted to be was in school doing arithmetic.

When I lived in Ghana, in Bolga, Christmas time had the strangest weather, sort of yin-yang. It was hot, dusty and dry all day but, at night, it was chilly. I was glad for the wool blanket I had bought. It was scratchy, but it served its purpose well. That same wool blanket now rests on the back of the living room couch. My friends have the same blanket. It was a market buy.

Christian Ghanaians celebrate Christmas. They spend all morning in church. They are fervent. The trees are odd, no fir, but sometimes branches from mango trees decorated with paper. Dinner isn’t special. Usually it is a light soup with fufu or T-zed. My dinner was the usual. I ate chicken and mashed yams, tuber yams, not sweet potatoes. Other than tomatoes and onions, the only other vegetables were canned. I remember peas and carrots, mushy peas and carrots. My house was decorated though I didn’t have a tree.

The school was empty of students, only staff remained. When I watch A Christmas Carol, the Christmas past scene with boys riding in coaches or on wagons yelling and waving as they leave the school always reminds of my students leaving. Buses heading south came to school to pick up the students. The buses were filled. My students waved and yelled Merry Christmas out the windows. I waved back and wished them a safe journey.

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