I did my best to ignore the Santas, sleighs, and stockings that shoved their way into stores before Halloween had even shouted its first "boo," but now I have released myself from this holiday restriction and can ease into enjoying the season.
(I really do like the Christmas season--the lead-up to the holiday is the best part, actually. It's terribly easy to escape the commercialism and onslaught of ads--just don't listen to the radio or watch too much TV, or spend any time at the mall. Presto: holidays at your own pace, in their right season.)
The first festive footsteps on our stroll into the holidays take us to Swanson's Nursery, a beautiful place just a hop, skip, and a jump northwest of us. Not only do they offer splendid, old-fashioned decor and a lovely cafe in which to meet a friend for coffee, they also set up spacious, hay-filled lodging for a miniature donkey, a camel, and a pair of reindeer.
I love to make this my first Christmastime stop. Over the years, I brought my daughter here many times on an uncrowded weekday afternoon to gaze at the animals before enjoying a cup of cocoa and a cookie in the cafe.
Now that she's in middle school and not available for such afternoon puttering, I visit the animals by myself. Makes me feel a bit wistful. Sometimes the days felt so very long when I was tending a toddler. Now I wonder where they've gone.
|Curley the Camel, who like all of his kind has beautiful, soft eyes. When he drinks|
out of his water bucket, he makes as much noise as a little kid slurping up the
last bit of milkshake at the bottom of a cup in a restaurant.
|This little guy is Moe, the miniature donkey. He lives quite companionably with|
his taller buddy, Curley. They're quite the Mutt-and-Jeff pair.