That's what we dream of each year ... isn't it? And, what is the perfect Christmas? Is it the vision on a television commercial, or is it reflected in a perfectly decorated set on a movie? Is it the scene you see drawn and painted on Christmas cards? Perhaps a vision of Christmas from when you were a child and everything still felt like exquisite and unchallenged magic? Side Bar: My eBook, "A Christmas Story" is available now to download. You may click on the picture at the right, or follow this link to get to the download page for more information about the story, the price, etc. Please remember that at least 50% of the proceeds from the eBook sales will be donated to our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. The money donated from the sale of this eBook--100% of it--will go directly into the funds needed for the house that is currently under construction for a local single mother and her three children. You can either download the book online then print it out, or order a CD to be shipped to you. Back to the Blog: Each year there is a plan that begins forming in the mind. The gifts, the food, the decorations, the activities, the smiles, the joy, the ... perfection. When I was in my twenties, a young mother, an awkward housekeeper, an aspiring writer ... the dream would begin forming sometime in early fall. It would grow, and I would work, and the dream glistened and called me forward. The closer to Christmas it was, the harder I worked at bringing the elements of my physical world into alignment with my golden city dream, sitting on the glowing top of Mt. Imagination. Stress would inevitably take hold, often I would get sick just before the holidays because of the stress and the worries and the overspending and the pressure of it all. Christmas would come, many things would yet be undone. Of course the holiday was beautiful and sweet, but bittersweet a little bit too because of the stress, the flu, the breads that were never mixed and baked, the extra special touches to the presents that never quite materialized. The golden glitter of the perfection I had dreamed was sprinkled here and there across reality, but did not fully adorn the picture as I had dreamed it would. What is amazing to me, looking back on it, is that it took me so many years to realize that was how it worked and that, the truth be told, it's all good. It's all cool. There was no need to stress, ever. Not ever. The truth of the matter is, at least for me, I know for a fact that I will not ever reach the summit of Mt. Imagination when it comes to Christmas. Christmas has a deadline, each and every year. And I have a BIG, BIG imagination. My Mt. Imagination is tall and the fact of the matter is, I get tired sometimes and have always had a lot of other responsibilities than just this Christmas season game. So, one year I realized I could just let go. I would dream my dreams of the perfect Christmas, but I knew the mathematical probability of my ever pulling it off was very slim. Slim indeed. However, I could dream the perfect Christmas up in my mind, and I could add to it all I wanted. After all, Mt. Imagination is free to become and be whatever you can make it. And I say, make it big and grand because you need to aim high. Not just at Christmas, but in life. Aim wildly high. Wildly high. Your aim at Mt. Imagination will pull you along. And here is the secret I have discovered ... enjoy the road along the way. Relish and delight in the obstructions and the glories and the momentary accomplishments and details and don't forget to look at the single individual flower growing by the side of the road along the way. The details of the journey are grand. They are in fact grander than we give them credit for I believe. When I share my photos with you and I tell you of the beauty of the cornfields, the temperature, the cottage, the rain, the knitting, the food ... I'm just sharing my love of the details with you. I believe key to my own personal journey and finding this lovely place along the way is that I came to feel such utter and sincere and simple, clean gratitude for it all. I even came, finally, to love and appreciate Los Angeles a bit before I left to come here. I had resisted Los Angeles for many years; resented Los Angeles for tangling me up in its twisted vines and brown grasses for so many years, lost in details I didn't much care for. But, I did come to love and appreciate Los Angeles and Southern California there at the end and I was glad it had come to that, because really so much of the things I am grateful for in life happened in Los Angeles. That's where we were cowboys, where my children were born, where my family (mother, father, brothers, sister) shared the best, the very best years of our lives together. So, how do I create a perfect Christmas now? I dream, just as before. I picture it all perfect in my mind and I build Mt. Imagination up to and beyond the clouds. And then I relax and start creating. Whatever I can manage to do within a sane budget and without making myself or those around me crazy, I do. And, I am willing to let go of any number of things that are very nice dreams, but are not make-break points in the creation of a perfect Christmas. To create a truly perfect Christmas this is what I do: as I create, as I work on decorations, or food, or gifts, or stories I consider and reconsider the true meaning of Christmas. Because Christmas isn't in any of those details anyway. The Whos down in Whoville had it right: it is all within us and what we create together and it is all about love. Brotherly love, love for mankind, generosity in spirit, kindness of heart and temper. Smiles, touches, gladness. It is about the healing touch that someone named Jesus Christ brought to a troubled planet a little over 2,000 years ago. No matter who or what Jesus Christ was or is in your own opinion, he did bring a healing touch to this planet. Man, prophet, or son of God he brought a much needed healing touch that left a profound and ever growing mark upon our world. We could use that touch today and today we each have the capacity to deliver that healing touch unto each other. That's Christmas, in its perfection. I was planning on telling you this morning about my teddy bear tree. It is a creative solution to a problem. For me, Christmas trees have always been a very important part of our Christmas celebration. Large, live, beautiful trees bedecked with ornaments made by hand, ribbons, popcorn, etc. For my husband, not so. He lived here on this farm for a long time by himself and for the past nine years did not set up a Christmas tree. He doesn't like the idea of purchasing a cut tree which is what I have always done. We agreed early on I would compromise with him and we would have an artificial tree. He had one stored in a closet that he had not looked at in many years. When he got it out the other day, it wasn't what he remembered and it wasn't what I expected. It was smaller than I had hoped, and more artificial looking than he remembered. It was actually a little depressing for me when I saw it, and I struggled with what to do. I didn't want to create a problem with my dear husband, but the tree was a bit of a culture shock to me. I felt a bit like Charlie Brown's little sister when she is out in the pumpkin patch with Linus on Halloween. So, I did the only logical thing a woman can do at a time like that. I took a nap. A long, long nap. When I got up we talked about the tree and as it turns out we both agreed it wasn't what we wanted. I told him I was willing to try to work with it and see what I could do, and he said he was willing for us to buy a very nice, large, scrumptious looking artificial tree. Still, I wanted to try to create a feeling of love for that little tree. Even though it was artificial, it just seemed wrong to reject it in my mind the way I did. I literally felt bad for the little thing. As it turns out, my sister-in-law has an "extra" artificial tree that is large and plush and so forth and we are going to use that this year, rather than the littler one we were struggling with. My husband offered to take the littler tree upstairs for me to use in my "teddy bear" area. I haven't told you about my teddy bear area yet. Before I met my husband face-to-face, we already knew we were getting married and had discussions about the house and what we might do with it, how we would create it into a home for the two of us, etc. He told me about a little landing at the top of the stairs that he thought would be a good place for my teddy bear and miniature furniture collection. Though most of my belongings are still in Los Angeles in storage, I did ship my teddy bears and some of my miniature furniture here just before we got married. Last night I put lights on it, and as I was arranging my teddy bears around it, I started putting teddy bears in it. And soon it was the center piece of a glowing, warm, and perfect Christmas setting. When my parents and son are here this Christmas, that is what they will see when they come upstairs to go to bed at night. So, the little tree that wasn't quite right as it turns out is just perfect. And, life continues to be beautiful. But, I have to say, I do have a hand in making it so. This incident with the little tree could have become a real "incident" if it weren't addressed with love, affection, and regard by both of us. The spirit of Christmas reigns and it is perfect in its imperfection. Here's wishing you a perfect day. ~firefly P.S. The wreath is one I made from grapevines that were growing on our barn, pinecones gathered from our yard, and other ingredients provided by dear friends and loved ones nearby.