Nooks and crannies

The scene in the snow globe

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A thick flurry of flakes churns and swirls wildly, creating a crystalline wall of white. Gradually, the whirling slows, and the gossamer flecks begin to drift and flutter gently, magically revealing a snow globe scene.

A little girl, hands clasped at her heart, gazes up at the tree in the corner of the small living room. She and her younger brother stand sheltered between Mom and Dad. Their eyes reflect the dazzling lights that flicker before them, melding the colors and textures into a beautiful Christmas memory. The idyllic image glows in my mind as I envision my sister’s remembrances of an enchanting night long, long ago.

It was the girl’s fourth Christmas. The warm scents of spruce and burning wax mingled together as the day’s events flashed through her mind. As Dad headed out the door that morning, bundled in his winter coveralls and cap and overshoes, he had turned to Mom and said quietly. “We have to give them a Christmas.”

Later Mom popped a huge bowl of popcorn. With Don in his high chair, tasting bits of the white fluff, Deloris and Mom used darning needles to string the popped kernels and bright red cranberries into a long rope. That afternoon Dad tugged a small tree in through the kitchen. Mom brought a coffee can filled with wet sand, and together they set the tree in its stand of bright wooden pine boards. “We can’t let the tree dry out,” Dad said as they worked. “There was another fire near Brookings. They lost…” He paused and glanced at the children as they looked up at him, waiting. Then he ruffled Don’s blond hair and smiled wistfully. “Let’s get this tree decorated!”

Dad held his small boy up close to the top and helped the pudgy little hands nestle the star into the branches. Mom had cut a star out of a box and covered it with precious tin foil. They wrapped the popcorn-cranberry garland all around the tree. Then the children helped drape “icicles” over the tips of the branches. Mom had saved the tinsel from last year, carefully laying each strand on a piece of cardboard, then wrapping all in newspaper.

When the silver strings covered the tree, Dad brought out the box of candles and burnished brass candle holders. Mom smiled. “We used these on our Christmas trees when I was growing up.” She carefully pushed a white candle into each holder, and Dad began clipping them onto branches.

Soon twenty-four small white pillars stood out against the dark green needles. Mom left for a few minutes and came back carrying two small packages wrapped in white tissue paper. She placed them under the tree.

The regal spruce stood solemnly, as though it knew how important it was on this special Christmas Day. “Are you ready?” Dad asked the girl and boy as he used a match to light a stubby red candle that was waxed unto a plate. “Mom and I will light the candles. Then we we’ll turn out the lantern. The candles can burn for just a little while.” Two little heads looked up in wonder and solemnly nodded.

Again the snow globe picture glitters in my mind—the family standing before their tree, the light of the candles glowing in the darkness. Like icicles touched by first rays of sunlight, the tinsel shimmers in reply. They sing Silent Night.

With hands crossed over her heart, the little girl stared at the glorious sight. The reflection of the light glowed in her eyes, and those of her little brother, her mother and her father. A portrait is etched in their hearts as a precious memory that comes back to life as the story flows from the Nooks and Crannies of my sister’s mind.

Those were simpler times. No electricity. No layers of gifts piled under the tree. But the joy and hope shone as brightly as the candles on that spruce so long ago, encircled in light and love, like a snow globe.

I wish you a snow globe Christmas.

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