I’ve been running around like a maniac for the last week – the holiday season is officially upon the Glacier County Honey Company, and we thank you for your support!  Our first year in the retail honey/beeswax business has been beyond our wildest dreams, and it’s the greatest ride of my life.  Although it’s only the second week of November, orders for beeswax Christmas ornaments, honey stocking stuffers, and gorgeous pinecone candles fill my inbox daily.

Yesterday, I worked in the warehouse all day, melting wax, filtering wax, pouring wax, and packing up honey.  As I worked, I turned my I-pod to my Christmas music playlist, much to Honeydew’s dismay.  Since Howard’s death, I’ve had a hard time with Christmas, compounded by the fact that a few years after he died, the woman who had been my mother’s best friend and a second mother to me, passed away at Christmastime.  So often to me, Christmas is an empty seat at the dinner table, that gift you wish you could buy and wrap and watch be unwrapped.

But despite the grief that will always taint Christmastime for me, its music never fails to lift my heart, and I enjoy it far longer than the average person.  My I-pod is stocked with the quiet instrumentals of Bela Fleck picking away at a banjo version of Jingle Bells, the average Joe vocals of Alabama longing to spend Christmas in Dixie, the soaring synthesizer of Manehim Steamroller on O Holy Night, the crystalline soprano of Dolly Parton lamenting a Hard Candy Christmas, and the spectacular vocals of Mariah Carey, who I really only enjoy when she’s singing All I Want For Christmas Is You.  I have been known to listen to the occasional Christmas song in July, just because I miss them.

As I worked yesterday, my thoughts turned to Christmases before I knew grief, and I remembered the fall Sissy and Grandma Betty came to see us at Blackstone Farms.  We always took a trip to town to visit the Tultex outlet, back in the days when we’d never heard of NAFTA and Martinsville, Virginia, was the sweatshirt producing capital of the world.  Sissy and Grandma Betty and my mom always bought the place out.  Sweatshirts bored the boys and I to tears, but when Sissy gave me the Christmas sweatshirt dress she’d made for me, one that matched those she’d also made for herself, my cousin Brooke, and my mom, my opinion changed.  Sweatshirt dresses! Oh, the ’80s.  It was a very merry Christmas down on the big farm, in Georgia.

Above, my cousin Brooke, me, Brother Dear, and Howard, pose on Grandma Betty’s doorstep, on our way to Fair Haven for church.  To sing beautiful Christmas music, I’m sure.

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