The Week Before Christmas

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the town

people were shopping, most with a frownon their faces as they ran from store to store.One shopper lamented, “I must buy more:

more candy, more presents, more stuff for the stockings.

I’ve been shopping all day and I’m tired of walking,but my Christmas buying I’ve only begun.When I look at my list I’m nowhere near done.

I need blenders and mixers and espresso makers,

electric grills, juicers, the latest bread bakers,book racks and wine racks and calming waterfalls,treadmills and steppers and exercise balls,

bikes, trikes, toboggans and sleek winter gliders,

hockey sticks, pucks, and cool super-sliders,TVs, DVDs, and VCRs and computer set-ups for driving race cars,

steamers and fryers and fondue sets,

stereos, cameras—I’m not done yet—boxes of chocolates, kits for making beer,dust eaters and swishers (or were they last year?).

White lights for indoors, and outdoors too—

There’s a new style, so last year’s won’t do.”

The signs in the store say “Shopping is Good”

but I don’t believe them. I wish someone wouldtear them all down; I know they’re not right.It isn’t this stuff that makes Christmas bright.

Each year, I add more to the Christmas tree pile,

and each year it takes more to make people smile.They tear off the ribbons and tear off the wrapping.The pile grows higher and still no one’s happy.

There’s something missing. We’ve lost all the cheer.

There’s nothing but stress now at this time of year.How did we manage to make such a messof this Christmas time that’s meant to be bless’d?”

She stopped of a sudden. She put her bags down.

She declared to the shoppers who hurried around“I’ve had enough of this buying, this mad shopping spree.Here, take my packages. It’s OK with me

for I won’t be needing them. I’ve had enough,

enough of this buying, enough of this stuff.Look at us all here, look where we’ve ended:certainly not where the Child intended.”

She left all her parcels, walked out of the store

leaving shoppers aghast, staring out of the dooras she strode down the street and right out of townand into the forest where she finally sat down

on a big old rock…and she felt such a hush

that before long she found all the stress and the rushwere melting away like snow in the sun.There was no need to hurry, no need to run.

She took time to look. She took time to listen.

She noticed the quiet, how everything glistened.The trees around her shimmered with frost.The snow on the ground was heaped deep and soft

glinting and glimmering with a rosy glow

from the blazing sky as the sun dropped low.In the woods behind her she heard “chick-a-dee”as those birds bustled from tree to tree.

She saw in the top of the spruce just above her

a dozen small birds, all busy, a-flutter,snipping off cones which they held in their feetwhile they pried out the seeds and proceeded to eat.

In the snow at her feet round the base of the rock

were fleur-de-lis tracks where a ptarmigan walked.In the still air around her ice crystals sifted.With nowhere to go, they floated and drifted

against the pale blue of the evening sky.

It all seemed so wondrous, and she wondered whyshe had been so caught up in the musts and the shouldswhen all that she needed was a walk in the woods.

She said out loud to the sky and the birds

“My gift to my family will be these words:The beauty we seek from our frantic buying,you’ll find in the woods without even trying.

What more could we want than what’s already here?

We’re surrounded by gifts every day of the year.We need only open our ears and our eyes.A walk in the woods in your Christmas surprise.”

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