It is another cold December night, silent as it flies by. The dog is sleeping soundly in the bed, growling at something in her dreams. The snow still blankets the forest with soft curves over the land. The clock above me ticks. I always love the sound of a tick-tock. There’s no sleep for me tonight. I think it’s because I’ve slept all week trying to get over a cold and keep it out of my chest. Though, it could be the cup of coffee I drank at ten thirty.

Trying to sleep and thinking about that cup of coffee, I miss those times when I could drink coffee late into the night. Of course, there were term papers to write and I had to stay up. My insomnia never seemed to help me out on those late nights. Tonight wakefulness occurs due to something other than insomnia. It may be the caffeine, but it might also be this beautiful night calling to me. I have no good pictures of the snowy night, only the bright white days.

The last walk with the dog was peaceful. The snow on the path has softened from being solid ice. Birdie just looked for deer. While she looked at the houses below and the woods between them, I looked at the snow. The trees made shadows. Debris from the trees made patterns in the snow. All was silent except for a saw of some sort coming from my new neighbor’s house. The light on the garage was still on. They are preparing the house for their coming marriage. I try to think of something to give as a welcome to the neighborhood or a wedding gift. I don’t know them yet though. Gift giving seems not to be my forte anyway.

Trying to go to sleep earlier, my mind raced about the holidays. I thought of the days past and how little money I’ve had for gifts in my lifetime. Though, I always put as much heart and thought into a gift as possible. I don’t miss the stress of shopping or trying to find the perfect gift. I was never a shopper, though at one time I enjoyed Christmas shopping. I still wasn’t very good at it even then. Some people have a knack of knowing just what a person needs or wants. Gift giving has lost its appeal for me. What I want to give is not as tangible as a present. It is about presence however.

Presence that gives of the heart, mind, and soul imbues me with a desire to reciprocate.  That powerful presence can be given in something as simple as a sincere smile. Kindness goes a long way in these times when everyone seems to be fighting or accusing. Sitting with a grieving friend is priceless. I’ve had friends care for me as I grieve, and there are no words to convey the power of that understanding.

Drinking the last bit of coffee, a community of witnesses, friends, family surrounds me. Those who have died did not abandon me for I carry them in my heart. The last time I saw my dad well was near Christmas. He wanted one last Christmas with his family. Yet, his love is ever with us. The magic of grandparents’ homes still warms my heart. Carols connect me with my cousins and remind us all of singing around the piano in wonderful harmony.

The dog has awakened and sat behind me; her black eyes staring at my back. She wants me to return to bed. Now I hear her hesitant jump as she tries to get back on the bed. She sleeps close to my leg and lets me know if anything sounds during the night. She watches over me. Somehow, I know my loved ones watch over me too. May you have angels watch over you on this beautiful December night and lead you into glorious day.