(With apologies to Richard Evans, author, and Maureen O'Hara and Richard Thomas, TV movie.)
Rain all day, but no wind (yay!). Wood stove cranked up to high. It was a good day to assemble the dratted artificial Christmas tree with 1,000 color-coded branches. It had seemed a good idea at the time and was only $5; what was I thinking? Old, black-and-white mystery movies were on TV. Goody. Ralph and Celeste have had so much fun with the big plastic bag, using it like a slip-and-slide on the entryway tiles, I'd forgotten that the best present a cat can get is an empty box. The felines waited and watched as I slowly pulled out branch after prickly branch to spread, fluff, and insert into the "trunk" while muttering a steady stream of distinctly un-Christmasy epithets. I'd no sooner moved the finished tree over to the corner when the cats moved in. The box that holds the tree is about three feet long and five inches square (no, really, and the tree turns out to be over six feet tall!). Two cats would fit nicely, but Ralph and Celeste don't share well. They jumped in and out, pushing and shoving each other to claim the space. Ralph used the box as a bunker from which to ambush sleeping Bessie Anne. Celeste hid under the flaps to slap Ralph. Don't give away the secret, but I think I know what the cats will get for Christmas.
Well after dark, I saw headlights coming up my drive. City folk might not understand, but no one comes visiting unannounced up here, and never after dark. It's either an emergency, some poor soul lost in the hills, or someone up to no good. I forgot the season. Going to the door and turning on the porch light, it was with relief that I saw the UPS truck pull up with a Christmas box of another sort. My brother-in-law, Stan, has become, with lots of practice, a brewmaster of fine beer and ales and I'm a happy, yearly recipient of a bottle of his latest and best. This year it is a rye beer. I might open the box early, but I'll wait until the holiday to pop the top. Lynne, his wife, concocts and jars wonderful mixes. One year it was beans and spices for a delicious soup, last year it was a mix for triple-chocolate cookies. This year, with the addition of applesauce, the ingredients are for a spice cake. It's always something different and always a treat.
Back to the tree. I chose not to start stringing the lights or putting on decorations. I'm hoping that the cats will become bored with the bare branches and ignore it when it's finished. They were definitely inspecting it when Bess and I left to go to the grocery store and I feared I'd find it on its side when we got back. So far, so good. Maybe if there are enough empty boxes around, they'll stay occupied and leave the tree alone. That remains to be seen.
It was a good day.