Rabbit had gone outside in the late afternoon to watch the sun as it sank below the tree line and turned the southwesterly clouds a watercolor pink. But now, in the full-dark of the longest night, under the watchful eye of a waxing moon, she carried a basket of candles to Old Possum’s house, where everyone was gathering for their annual tree-decorating party.
Mama Chipmunk had arrived with a huge armful of evergreen boughs, which she arranged on the mantel, while Rabbit set one of her newly made cypress-scented candles in each shadowy windowsill, lighting them as she went.
As usual, the robins and wrens took charge of winding Possum’s popcorn-and-berry garlands around and around the tree, snatching a bite of popcorn here, a single berry there. Next came the antique glass ornaments and then, the final flourish: Possum’s grandmother’s delicately carved wooden star, which Crow gently set atop the tree.
Once the tree was complete, it was time for carols and Yule punch and thick slices of Raccoon’s multi-layered chocolate cake with mint frosting.
(Late December 2023)