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November 21, 2014

A Sleigh Bell Rings

Jingle, jingle. Jing, jing, jingle.

The sound of sleigh bells is commonplace this time of year. Friends, family, and shops hang them on doors. The bells are equally warm greeting you, "So glad you're here!" as they are bidding you, "Farewell! Until next time."

It is the sound of a single sleigh bell that is the source of one of my favorite Christmas memories.

One snowy evening, Maile's first holiday season, I was stuck. Stuck in that hour or so before bath and bedtime when, as a new mom, you aren't quite sure what to do with your baby. Peek-a-boo'd out, every board book you own read a dozen times over, too cold and dark to go outside. So we sat. I plopped down with her in front of the Christmas tree. Maile's deep brown eyes were firmly fixed on the hundreds of twinkle lights in front of her. Satisfied, I allowed my mind to wander for the first time that day.

Our house was so silent, I could almost hear the heavy snowflakes falling outside, blanketing our semi-pastoral neighborhood in a thick, pillowy down. I imagined the cattle two blocks down grouped together -- fresh powder on their broad backs, their tails flicking from the huddle in nonsensical harmony. I thought about the local prairie dogs piled in their dens, warm and dry and sleepy. Prairie dogs have family units just like people, you know ... I mentally told no one in particular. The sweet, savory aroma of warming cider suspended in the heated air.

Jingle, jingle. Jing, jing, jingle.

I was gently brought back by a tiny girl's tiny hand grasping the dark green bough in front of her. 

Jingle, jingle. Jing, jing, jingle, it sang.

I remember feeling that I was exactly where I was meant to be, a sense that so often eludes people.

Like many best memories, there are no pictures to look back on, yet I can still see, hear, smell that moment in time, as if it was just last night.

Thanks so much to the artist Patience Brewster for inspiring this post. If you are looking for whimsical ornaments, full of wonder -- involving sleigh bells or otherwise -- I encourage you to visit her page.

I'd love to read about your Christmas memories, sweet or silly, in the comments!

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