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The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. After a very long, very hot summer that did not seem to end anytime soon, winter suddenly appeared, though shyly at first. Then bit by bit, the skies started clouding over with huge thunderheads. Rain started falling and the temperature dropped. Winter has finally arrived.

With the cold weather hot drinks become a favourite, all kinds of soups are being tried and improved upon. It becomes a pleasure to curl up in a comfortable chair with a roaring fire heating up the house. The cats are all curled up around me, some sleeping, some purring, all lazy, relaxed, content.
Half way through my book, I gradually doze off. I am still aware of the fire, the room, the cats. But a new presence is also felt, a familiar, loved presence. I am not surprised. I take it in stride as the most natural thing. My Mom is sitting there in her usual chair, talking to me. I hear her voice, I see her smiling eyes, full of love.
With a start I wake up. The room is the same, the fire is the same, the cats are still asleep, but my Mom is no longer there. Still the warm feeling of her love lingers on. She was there. I am sure she came to me because I was thinking about her all day. Christmas preparations, the beginning of the holiday season has roused in me such a longing for her. She always enjoyed it so much, made a big deal of all the preparations, the decorating of the tree and the house, the planning of the party, the Christmas carols playing softly all day.
She came to visit to encourage me to carry on. I feel her presence in the house. I feel her warmth and her love surrounding me throughout the house. This is the second Christmas after she crossed that thin veil, after crossing over to the other side. It seems during special seasons or special times this thin veil becomes transparent and turns into wisps of smoke that part and let one’s loved ones come through. I hear her voice, I smell her essence, I feel her warmth and her love. She is happy, cheerful and, as usual full of laughter and love.
There are no other human beings in the house with me. There are some cats and one dog in the house. But I feel it brimming over with warmth, with love, with cheer. This Christmas will not be a bleak, lonely season. This Christmas will be beautiful, despite the fact that my family cannot make it. Despite being alone in the house, I do not feel lonely. I feel loved, cherished, blessed. I have had so much love, so much fun as to last me two lifetimes. I have been blessed by a loving family, and the most adorable,long line of loving pets, past and present.
My special Christmas present to myself this year are my two newly adopted shelter dogs. I think my Mom came to visit to give me her blessings for those two. She loved dogs and that is where I got my love for them as well.
The long winter evenings are no longer dreary, cold and lonely. They have turned into cheerful, warm moments, bright with Christmas cheer, full with creatures, big and small, past and present, all here, filling up my life with love.
I am indeed blessed, may this Christmas season fill the house with cheer, the country with love and the world with peace.
13 December 2015