Christmas in Crepuscular Meadows (I)
'Christmas will be different this year' was the headline on the front page of the Evening Sentinel For Oct. 30. No big gatherings. Black Friday was likely to be mostly online.
The post office was hiring lots of extra help, as gifts were more likely to be sent than handed out in people's houses. Problem: with workers expected to stay six feet apart to stem the spread of the virus, the post office would need larger quarters. So Bernard Philpin, the town's resident philanthropist, opened part of the Convention Center as a postal annex.
But when his workers got to the center to clean it for use, they found homeless people there already. The doors were hardly secure.
'We need to do a homelessness census,' Mayor Gladhand told his top aides when he heard about this. 'Virus or no virus, Christmas or no Christmas, we can't have people freezing to death all over town.'
Meanwhile, 200 evergreens were being planted all over town, part of Madeline Pelerin's beautification program. Half of them were already planted by Halloween. Most residents welcomed them, as they made the town seem more Christmassy, but a leading homelessness advocate scoffed that you can't eat evergreen trees or use them to stay warm in winter. And there were many who didn't care one way or the other.
Emma Sullivan, who ran a cafe next to the post office, suggested using unused mill space across the street from her. 'Just install a stile, and stairs leading down to the mills, and postal workers can move between the post office and the new quarters. The Convention Center can stay a shelter for the homeless, if need be.'
The Central Park already had displays of pine cones and red ribbons by Halloween, which seemed too early for some people. But pumpkins were okay, and they would serve through Thanksgiving.
Two magnificent white spruces – ten feet tall, and with a very pleasing blue tinge to their needles – now grew on either side of the lawn in front of the Town Hall. In years past, a Christmas tree had been erected on the lawn, with local schoolchildren invited to decorate it for Christmas, but now there would be two trees, and they would be there year-round.
A spruce here, a cedar there, an arborvitae at an intersection – it was adding up. The flowering trees would be planted in the Spring.