All of that changed one day in August. I should have known that something was afoot when I saw my father in deep conversation with our cottage neighbor. It turned out that they were planning a special event. The neighbor’s daughter who had down’s syndrome had the unfortunate luck of being born on Christmas. Each year, as others enjoyed gift giving, she would get birthday gifts along with Christmas gifts. My father decided to do something about it. Along with the neighbor they decided to celebrate Christmas early- on August 25th.
On that day, our summer activities took a remarkable turn. First, we headed to the forest and cut down a fresh, small pine tree. Next, we erected a Christmas tree on the beach, decorated it with popcorn strings and paper cut decorations. benches were set up surrounding the tree and our neighbor placed gifts under it. Then we all gathered as our neighbor led his daughter down to the tree. Our campfire songs turned to Christmas carols, the gifts were opened and we all delighted in the wonderful smile and sparkling eyes that lit up the young girl’s face.
Christmas in August became a new cottage tradition, and until our neighbors eventually sold their cottage, we looked forward to it each year.
That is the thing about cottage life- you get to create your own traditions.
Although it was years ago, and I have wonderful memories of summers spent at the cottage, that Christmas in August is one of the best. The happiness it brought to all of us was in the true spirit of Christmas- joining together to do something that was giving to another.
If you catch me smiling on a hot summer August day, it may not be because of that long tale fisherman’s story you just told. No, I’m just thinking about Christmas.