The Twelve Days of Christmas by Shirley Murtha

In his sermon on December 26th, Father Tim invited us to be grateful for the daily gifts we receive, not just the ones that come wrapped in fancy paper, adorned with festive bows.  I immediately thought of the spectacular sunrise I had witnessed that morning on my way to get my coffee and NY Times prior to the 8 o’clock service, and how I had said “Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful sight.”  I decided to answer Father Tim’s invitation with a list of my gifts of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

  1. Sunday, 12/26 – the spectacular sunrise mentioned above.
  2. Monday, 12/27 – I had ordered a small, battery operated snowblower. It arrived today in a box much too large for me to handle, so I called my neighbor Bruce to help me move it into my garage. Being an engineer, his eyes lit up at the prospect of “some assembly required,” so he offered to take it home and do just that.
  3. Tuesday, 12/28 – a former student sent me a container of paperwhites for Christmas. They bloomed today, filling my dining room with their wonderful fragrance.
  4. Wednesday, 12/29 – got a surprise call from my best friend on Nantucket, full of news and love
  5. Thursday, 12/30 – went outside to take in the bird feeders just in time to see the spectacular sunset (still not sure my morning bear won’t be ambling out in the wee hours). Once again, the Lord got appropriate thanks as I sat down on the step and watched the colors change on their way to sinking below the tree line.
  6. Friday, 12/31 – I dreaded the evening all day, as my friend Rob had caught a cold and would not be joining me to ring in the new year, and I decided to decline an invitation to join other friends at a restaurant for dinner. I didn’t attend my own family Christmas gathering because of covid (too many of us coming from too many different airports and crowded into small rooms), so I was not about to risk it all just to not be alone on New Year’s Eve. What started with lonely tears as I ate dinner, turned into gratitude for the realization that I was crying because I missed all the wonderful loves of my life: my parents, my husband, our family, my horses and dogs (especially the last one, Jack) – not to mention the loves I have now – and my tears turned into tears of gratitude for how full of love my life has been and is now.
  7. Saturday, 1/1 – my dear friend Mary Kate stopped in for a socially distanced, mask-wearing visit on her way back to Boston from her sister’s in Simsbury. We shared many laughs, as we always do. The gift of her friendship started my year off right!
  8. Sunday, 1/2 – a phone call from my young friend Sophie, a former neighbor whose family has moved to North Carolina. I was her “Auntie Mame” when she was in middle and high school. She is a very shy gal with lots of anxiety problems. Often my attempts to talk with her do not succeed; she much prefers texting, so imagine my surprise when I got a text asking if I was home and would I like to talk with her!  Yes and Yes!  This gift lasted over an hour!
  9. Monday, 1/3 –  a fiercely cold windy day. As I went out to take in the feeders, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something fly by me!  I hoped that it was my Carolina wrens, coming to the nest in the corner of the breezeway – I hadn’t seen them since spring, but I knew they were still around.  After dark, I went out with a flashlight to shine in the nest cavity, and, yes! There they were! They face the back of the nest and whichever one is nearest the opening spreads its wings to cover them both. They appear dappled, like a fawn. My heart just bursts every time they come to my place for a safe warm night.
  10. Tuesday, 1/4 – I was able to get a rapid covid test packet
  11. Wednesday, 1/5 – my dear friend, Paul, called from his sister’s house in North Carolina
  12. Thursday, 1/6 – I got to visit with my great grandkids before they are whisked back off to California

Some of these days had unpleasant or difficult things happening, but writing down each night what the best gift was that day (and sometimes there were many gifts a day) helped me forget the negative and concentrate on the positive. Although I mostly remember to specifically thank the Lord when my gift has something to do with the natural world, I’m sure He had His hand (or is it She had Her hand?) in all of it.

I’m going to continue to do this every night, so I will fall asleep being pleased with my gifts.