Today I was supposed to go to a pheasant shoot being held by some local farmers. They asked me to come along and photograph them with their spaniels. I thought I'd get some photos of pheasants when they fly up, roused by the "beaters". But this was not to be. I awoke to a valley coated with frost and filled with dense fog. The day didn't really improve so around noon I decided to go Christmas shopping instead.
(Welsh Mountain Ram)
Do towns in America still decorate for Christmas? I remember as a child all the decorations the towns put up on lampposts or on wires suspended above the streets - big colored light bulbs and tinselly things like candy canes and snowmen. Is that still done? Well, it is over here. Hereford today was filled with such things and many of the little border villages
(border of Wales-England) also have fairly elaborate Christmas decorations.
(Rush Hour on My Lane)
Of course Christmas in Wales, at least on the border where I stay, is pretty much like it is over in America. Since I live out in the country there's not a lot of caroling going on, and most of the farm folks are pretty busy just keeping their livestock fed and keeping their water thawed; they don't have a lot of time to go out singing and carousing.
I remember in my hometown (Binghamton New York) there was a peanut shop downtown and I often walked the three miles downtown to save bus fare and because I just loved to walk. There were quite a lot of good stores there in those days (before malls and chain stores came along and wiped out the downtowns of America). But that peanut shop! They had all kinds of nuts and it's quite possible that they weren't as good as they smelled! But I always bought my dad a gigantic 5 pound bag of freshly roasted peanuts in the shell and he loved those things. It's not like you could disguise what they were (or hide the smell) but that's one present he no doubt loved. Right by the peanut shop was a place called Home Dairy and they sold half moon cookies. Now those cookies were about 4 or 5 inches across. You could either get vanilla ones or chocolate ones - that's a no-brainer, or course I wanted the chocolate. They were frosted half vanilla icing and half chocolate, a nice rich chocolate. Yummmmmm....you know since they went out of business I've never found anyone who makes half moon cookies like that. I did see some in Zabar's on Broadway in New York (a great deli to be sure) but they're always the vanilla dough. They need to be chocolate!
My mom used to knock herself out decorating the house for Christmas (you all know moms like that, right?) Seems like she put tinsel EVERYWHERE. Mom, like so many moms in the world, was totally other-oriented. She worked tirelessly to take care of everyone and make others happy and always seemed to forget to take the time to do things for herself. It's who she was. Sadly, my last Christmas with her was in 1983...she died at age 58 less than a year later. Luckily I got to spend a bunch of time with her throughout my life and most of the good things I know are things I learned from her. Our last Christmas we stayed up nearly all night long finishing up a spectacular wooden dollhouse she made for my two nieces. Somehow even then she knew that she wouldn't be around when the next Christmas rolled around. Funny the things you do when you step out of the ordinary and, say, stay up all night on Christmas Eve. We shared some wonderful moments together and I wouldn't trade them for anything.
No doubt the world is a better place because of all the love shared by moms and other good folks, this time of the year and always. (and sorry my photos have nothing to do with the text).