The popcorn garlands, the little hanging cups of fat and seeds, and the candles are ready and so the crowd of grandchildren set off down the path to the top field and its tight rows of Christmas trees to decorate the chosen one for the birds.
Later, in the cool darkness that comes so early at this time of year all the adults and children will gather round, light the candles and sing mostly Christmas carols, but also the Johnnie Appleseed grace*. We have been doing this since our now adult children were small. There is something very special about gathering around the lighted tree surrounded by forest and raising our voices together. In truth it is about us, about unity in performing this created ritual, and we do not seek to make a religion here, but the thought that we are renewing a most basic contract with the natural world that surrounds us is important.
It is easy to forget our complete reliance on nature, the very air we breath, and for us to take time to first make food and light, and then to present it in the little clearing in the big woods to the beings of the air feels just right.