The snow is lit by the outdoor lights of white, blue, red, green and gold. The reflection from the snow creates a surreal haze in the silence of the dark night.
Through the window the Christmas tree is lit in the center of the room. A sense of warmth emits from our well lit abode.
My faithful black lab Suzy's new favorite place to lie is no longer at my feet as I write from the back deck by the pool. The deck is now buried in white – the furnishings of the deck put away until the eternal hope of spring teases us with the nearness of summer.
Summer? It's Christmas!
Suzy's new favorite sleeping spot is under the foot of the Christmas tree.
The tree I just erected moments ago. Less than a week before Christmas.
My two little girls – promising so eagerly to help me put this three pieced mash of fake evergreen and pre-strung white lights – are strewn across the couch in tiny curled up forms of lightly snoring little princesses.
Useless princesses – but my princesses none the less.
I hope they marry into money – because the job market for princesses is likely to be very small when they grow up.
Our two little kittens are not quite as little now – but this will be their first Christmas. They are curious of the tree, the holly intertwined in the banister that wraps around our upstairs living room, and the larger than normal nativity scene on the large shelf above our foyer closet.
The kittens find all this more curious than normal. Climbing and balancing and weaving their way through the decorations.
Downstairs in front of the fireplace sits the green and red bin full of mantle decorations. Full of stockings, and stocking holders, and nutcrackers of all shapes and sizes. And a very special snow globe my cousin Jenny made for me to celebrate a headstuffing story called "Don't Be Scared Of A Little Snow" – depicting my arrival to the great white north from the sunny southern climate I grew up in.
All are very special to me. But the snow globe is the most special I think.
My daughters are now seven and eight years old. And I plan to cherish these few remaining Christmas's with them as little girls. Soon they will be young lady's – and soon the childlike wonder of Christmas will fade from their eyes.
Too soon – I know.
Their favorite decoration in the bin would be the tiny house of Advent – with twenty five doors – one for each day of the month from December 1st to Christmas day. And behind each door is a candy for each of them. Each day they open a new door.
The Advent house hasn't been pulled out of the bin yet.
Alannah – while helping me line up the sections of the tree posts to fit them together – asked me:
"Daddy, can we open all of the doors of the Advent house tonight?"
"I'm afraid they don't have any candies in them Alannah".
"That's ok, I just want us to open the doors".
Shortly after – she was curled up on the couch – likely dreaming of doors to be opened in some mystical fashion.
Later, Ashley-Rae woke up and helped me spread the branches out on the tree to make it look full and natural.
"Lift me up Daddy, so I can reach the ones on the tippity-top" she asked.
As I did so, I realized my daughter weighed more this year at seven than last year at six. Combined with my additional year of aging, it was obvious next year would be an even greater struggle to do so.
I know it's silly.
It's silly to love something so much as to start missing it while you still have it.
I am already starting to feel the pangs of missing my little girls – even though they are still – to me anyway – little.
I see the days coming ahead in the not-as-far-in-the-future-as-I-would-like-them-to-be.
The days when Alannah comes home from wherever she is living – with her boyfriend or husband – and only having a brief moment to stop in and visit her mother and I as we sit in that same living room. She will pull a small parcel from her bag for each of us and explain that she has to be elsewhere for dinner.
And we will smile and say thank you and give her presents to her. And we will show her the lovely card we received from Ashley-Rae explaining that she cannot be in Ontario for Christmas but that she will be thinking of us.
And while the boyfriend checks his watch for the time, my lovely wife and I and Alannah will drop our heads in unison as to signify to each that we know the days of today are past and tomorrow's days have arrived.
And I will let out as deep a sigh then as I let out now as I wrote my premonition here.
But today is still today. No ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, or Future need visit me just yet. The bah-humbugs have not yet infested my soul and devoured my passion for Christmas with my little family.
It's not about getting. It's about giving. And it's about giving all that I have – all that I am to my two little princesses – strewn on the couch lightly snoring.
Useless as they may seem to me now – they are the most valued treasures of my future. And in their absence I will somehow love them even more then than I do now.
Merry Christmas to you all. Cherish the Christmas present – for soon it shall be in the past.