This afternoon I delivered the first box of Christmas chocolates — two pounds of caramel brownies, fudge, chocolate peanut butter balls, chocolate mint cookies, and toffee, all individually wrapped, making three layers in a small white box that has become my trademark in recent years. It was both anticipated and enthusiastically received.
To me, the box represents more than delicious handmade chocolates and baked goods or even the love that has gone into making the goodies that fill it. It represents the passage of time.
When I walked the box over to my next door neighbor’s house, I remembered the years when we had three neighbors so friendly we offered the goodies on Christmas plates — that they could then return for a refill the following year. One of those neighbors has since died; the other moved away. For a couple of years we tried to enlarge our friendly circle by hosting a block party featuring Christmas desserts, first at our house, then at my neighbor’s home. Those were the days when my five children were ready helpers — unwrapping caramels, rolling peanut butter balls, separating cupcake wrappers — and my constant companions. When the plates of goodies were ready to be delivered, my children and I walked or drove to our various neighbors’ or friends’ homes, not just to deliver the gift but also to visit. It was a time to love and be loved; we shared the gift of time.
Today, I walked next door, the only friendly reminder of that earlier time, and rang the bell. When Charlie answered, he said, “Marie said it had to be you. No one rings the doorbell anymore, and it is that time of year.”
I offered the expected box — plus an additional bag filled with just fudge, Charlie’s favorite — and took a seat near the couple and their dog. I dutifully complimented the Christmas tree, petted the dog, and thus began our Christmas visit. We reminisced, talked about our children, our mishaps, the changes in the neighborhood, Charlie’s recent fall, and the fact that I had only hung Christmas lights on the front of the house this year. I told the couple of my husband’s idea to buy an artificial tree this year, decorate it, then cover it with a sheet and store it in the attic until next Christmas. Somehow all those details associated with Christmas have become less important — probably because it requires more effort as we get older.
Another indicator of the passage of time.
(And I think it’s my bedtime. I have numerous boxes to deliver tomorrow…)