Today was another windy day, though not as devastating as the windstorm we had a week or so ago. Still, I played it safe and stayed home except for a brief jaunt to the library before the winds got too bad. It was a treat. When my knees were acting up, I got in the habit of going to the library when I got out my car each week. It was just so much easier making the extra stop than trying to wield a satchel-full of books as well as a walking stick. But today I took a chance on walking, and it all worked out well. Even better, I got plenty of books to tide me over until after Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas — everyone who has come to the house the past couple of weeks has remarked on all the Christmas presents I’ve received, which made me smile. True, my coffee table is piled high with festive boxes, but almost all of them are empty. I use the gift boxes I’ve collected over the years to store my lights and ornaments, so after the tree is up and decorated, I don’t have to find a place to store the boxes. I just leave them out in plain sight. (If I had a big tree, I’d put them under the tree, but since my trees are small, I use the coffee table.) All those seasonal boxes not only make the place look festive, but it gives me a sense of wealth seeing all those gifts, even if the “gifts” are filled with nothing but air.

And speaking of festivities — in the book I’m reading, a character mentioned May baskets, which brought forth a whole stream of memories that have been long out of mind. When I was in grade school, my mother sometimes made cupcakes that looked like May baskets for me to take to class on May Day. And oh, were they beautiful! Basically, they were just cupcakes with icing to match the pipe cleaner “handle,” and the handles were decorated with dime-store flowers. It sounds simple, but I remember she spent a lot of time making those baskets, and eventually, she had to give it up, not just because it was too time-consuming but because those tiny flowers disappeared from the stores.

In my early twenties, I again started the habit of May baskets, but I followed the original tradition of leaving the baskets on people’s doorsteps. I stopped when the husband of one of my friends threw the basket out in the street because he thought it was a bomb. This was decades ago, long before people in safe neighborhoods had to worry about such things, but his actions broke my momentum, and I never did such things again.

It does make me wonder, though, if this would be a good time and a good place to reinstitute the practice. I enjoyed making the baskets and leaving a surprise for people, and I doubt any of the people I would leave a basket for would immediately think “bomb” when they saw a basket of flowers and small gifts.

But May is a long way away. (Though at the rate time is moving, it will have come and gone before I get around to making any baskets.)

Meantime, there is Christmas to get through. I don’t imagine I’ll have any problems; in fact, I am actually looking forward to spending the day by myself, reading, playing on the computer, and eating good food. Oh, and opening the gifts I did get. I’m especially looking forward to seeing what the plant fairies and garden gnomes sent me!


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

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