We have the tree decorated at last. December 15th was the day that we always bought a tree, back when we used real trees in my childhood and young adult life.

It is years since we did that, so we usually have a tree much earlier in the season. In fact, since the kids have grown up, we usually trim the tree while they’re here for Thanksgiving so we can all do it together. This year, with wild little dogs on hand, we didn’t. #1 son helped put the tree together a week later, #1 daughter bought lights a few days after that, my husband put the lights on the next day, I began decorating it and then came down with something, and I’ve only just finished.

Isn’t it pretty? Worth the wait, perhaps.

We always make or buy a new ornament every year for the tree. We have ornaments from our travels, glass ornaments I soldered together, papier mache and clay and wax ornaments we’ve made as a family over the years, sewn and embroidered ones, ornaments from ornament swaps, paper ones made by the kids in school, and baubles we’ve been given.

Trimming the tree allows plenty of nostalgia.

I also put my doll collection on the mantelpiece this year. I haven’t for a while. My grandfather worked for the BIT (in English, the ILO) and traveled a great deal. He sent me souvenir dolls from all over the world. When I was a child, we put them on the Christmas tree, and I’ve sometimes done the same. Sometimes I set them on the organ. This year, on the mantel.

I don’t have a creche out yet, but when I do that, I think that will be it for Christmas decorating this year.

There’ve been times when I’ve decorated every room in the house, but I don’t think this year will be one of those times, if only because it’s so late in the season.

Last night I was seized with an overwhelming awareness of how lucky I am. I always know I’m lucky — or perhaps I should say blessed — but sometimes I am more aware of it than at other times.

Then at 3:00 a.m. I was awakened by something and couldn’t get back to sleep for worrying about how we’ll manage the tuition payment on January 1 and what if we can’t meet our deadlines and will we be able to find another writer. Also possibly becoming old and decrepit, as my mother has done at an age when many people are still lively and healthy.

This is because the brain, as demonstrated in this infographic sort of thing from my sister, is both very smart and very dumb.


Smart enough to recognize my incredible good fortune in having such a wonderful family, a successful business, my health, a greater degree of comfort and ease than most people in the world — and dumb enough to be unable to sleep for fear of things that will probably never happen.

In any case, I am now tired and groggy, but I did finish reading a couple of books I need to review.

And I also broke a knitting needle.

Yep, Henry, having irritated me to death for months as I’ve tried to get him knitted up for Christmas, did the worst possible thing and broke a needle.

Did the scarf break the needle? Perhaps not. However, most of my knitting needles are hand-me-downs from my grandmother and may have been hand-me-downs from her grandmother. I own needles made entirely of metal because they were made before plastic was invented. I have never seen or heard of a knitting needle breaking while being knitted with.

Here you see that the plastic cable broke and the tip is off the cable entirely, so the scarf must hastily be bound off, hoping against hope that no stitches are lost in the process.

So the song for the day is “Quelle est cette odeur agreable?” Beautiful, beautiful tune. The story is of the shepherds with their flocks when the angels appeared to them. The shepherds were, as you will doubtless recall, sore afraid. In this song, they also found their senses ravished by the lovely scent of the angels, sweeter than flowers. An interesting counterpoint to fear, which was itself an interesting reaction to a heavenly visitation. Fear, according to a movie trailer I saw yesterday, is not real. Danger is real, but fear is a choice.