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The Sassy Sandpiper: Christmas in July

Sassy Sandpiper | M.R. Wilson | Christmas in July

The Sassy Sandpiper says we “need a little Christmas, right this very minute.”

By M.R. Wilson, Columnist, TB Reporter

A dear friend emailed me this Gentri video (click here to see and hear it) and then I realized it:  What I needed was a little Christmas in July.

(Yes, this is the real deal, first documented in 1933 at Camp Keystone, a North Carolina girls’ camp. Hollywood released the movie comedy Christmas in July in 1940; and a few years later, the Baptist Church, U.S. Post Office, Army and Navy, advertising and greeting card industries joined the festivities. Typically American, more than an actual holiday, “Christmas in July” is a marketing ploy for summer sales.)

June was a hard month. I delighted in new kittens – white twins Frosty and Snowy, and Charcoal, a smudgy tabby – brought to make the backyard home by their mother, Wild Thing, a month earlier. They romped and play; fought and grew. They learned to eat solid food, dig latrines, “trim” the callaloo, and nap in the sunniest places. They peered through the sliding glass door at the big grown-up house cats. They stalked grasshoppers and they stole my heart.

Then the raccoons struck the white kittens, the attacks about a week apart. The wild world I love is a merciless stage upon which predator and prey enact their ancient drama. The family disappeared. My hope is that Wild Thing relocated her litter to a safer environment, and one day – maybe months from now – I’ll see them again. Such a series of fortunate events brought community cat Peaches back after a long absence.

People I love suffered in June, also, as did millions I don’t know in every arena imaginable. “Keeping up with the news” felt like a pounding in the boxing ring.

It still does, and I expect life won’t get much better before it gets worse.

I need a little Christmas. Right this very minute. Even as thunder rolls and rain pelts the deck. But look! All of it beneath a blistering sun. Sometimes it happens that way in Florida.

One of my “traditions” is to forget something as I’m repacking decorations. It’s become a joke – almost fun to hunt around for what’s escaped storage. This past December, it was a tiny Nativity scene, roughly crafted in China. I got it at one of those dollar stores. It looked like something a child had made. Jesus, Mary, Joseph. A lamb. The holiest of families. I loved it the moment I laid eyes on it.

Sassy Sandpiper | M.R. Wilson | PoinsettiaThe tiny Nativity is my first decoration this Christmas in July. The second doesn’t belong to me:  Planted around a neighbor’s mailbox are several baby poinsettia plants. She knows that by December, the flowers will be glorious.

I’ll be on the lookout for other outward signs of Christmas in July, even as I know most of these “signs” reside in the heart, translating as acts of compassion and kindness in places I’ll never see.

So haul out the holly. Put candles in the window. Put up the tree before my spirit falls again.

Maybe I’ll bake Scottish Shortbread.

Photos by M.R. Wilson, TB Reporter Columnist

Sassy Sandpiper | M.R. Wilson | Christmas in July | Gentri | Christmas | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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The Sassy Sandpiper: Christmas in July
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The Sassy Sandpiper: Christmas in July
The Sassy Sandpiper says we "need a little Christmas, right this very minute."
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TB Reporter
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