I woke up to the first big frost of the season this morning. It glistened on leaves currently decorating our lawn, and layered itself over our car. Yep, 'tis the season of going out ten minutes earlier in the morning to warm the car.
For me, the first frost also marks the beginning of a joyous season. (I'm not one for Black Fridays or Cyber Mondays or whatever marketing tool is supposed to mark the beginning of the holiday season. I realize that, in these economic times, stores have to do everything they can to push holiday sales, thus the Christmas displays began to appear in the stores this year before Halloween, but I prefer to opt out of considering spending the raison d'etre of Christmas.)
It's time to start the traditions that we instituted when we moved to Southern Maryland a few years ago. This weekend, we'll be taking our two youngest grandchildren to the Christmas Walk on Solomons Island, visiting churches and stores along the boardwalk, sampling goodies while sipping on mulled cider or cocoa. Everybody and their dogs (naturally the dogs take part) greeting you and smiling, just grateful to be at this beautiful place on a cool December night. There's music and lights. Early on, there's a parade, which we may (or may not) watch, but we will be there for Saturday evening's boat parade -- a flotilla of decorated boats sailing around Solomons Island from Deep Creek and up the Patuxent River and back, the boats being manned by people filled of holiday spirit, with some filled by the holiday spirits. We may include a visit to the always interesting Calvert Marine Museum.
Later in December, We'll be at Flat Iron Farm in St. Mary's County for the light displays and the animals.
(Erin, the youngest, likes the watusi, the horses, and the pigs; her brother likes the pigs and the goats; I just enjoy walking through a working farm.)
Annmarie Garden, a public arts garden arm of the Smithsonsian, will be having its holiday lights display, nestled among the trees in its delightful statue garden. We'll be there.
On December 17th, it's a Tuba Christmas! The Tuba Christmas began at Rockfeller Center in 1974 as a tribute to music teacher Willam J. Bell, who was born on Christmas Day in 1902. It has since spread to more than 120 cities throughout the world, with the Calvert County Tuba Christmas is entering its ninth year. As the name implies, this a Christmas concert played on the tuba (and related instruments: the sousaphone, the euphonium, etc.). Anyone, any age, who can play a tuba is invited to play; in past years the ages ranged from pre-teen to I'm-not-going-to-tell-you. There were nearly forty players last year, coming from Virginia, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, and Ohio (I think; it was one of the "vowel" states). The music is sweet and moving; you will be surprised at the beauty of the music when you attend your first Tuba Christmas. And kids love it; they get a chance to jingle and clang bells during several numbers. If there is a Tuba Christmas scheduled where you live, don't pass it up.
On Christmas Eve, my daughter usually hosts an open house. I'm expected to bring my chili and wife is expected to bring her peppermint brownies. This year my daughter is back in school to train for a new career and her classmates have demanded she hold a party to celebrate the end of classes. (She and her husband live in a glass-sided octagonal house on a hill by the Chesapeake with two children, three dogs, a cat, a Burmese python, and two pet Nigerian dwarf goats; her classmates wanted an excuse to see the house and the goats.) So the open house has been moved up this year, but the chili and the brownies are still expected.
That leaves our Christmas Eve free. We may find a church service, or we may opt out and go view the house lights in our neighborhood, or we may stay home and watch old movies. Oh, the possibilities!
So that's what the first frost brings to me. And all those leaves on my lawn will probably wait until spring, when I'll try mulching them with my lawn mower. We let our grounds lay fallow; we live by the Bay and grass lawns are harmful to the ecology. My back is getting too old to rake, so we'll see how the mulching works out. Next season. After the last frost of this season.