It's on the windows of a cafe in West Lafayette, the walls of stores in the Old Market.
It's in the windows of various shops and stores and buildings all around the country, from banks in downtown Indianapolis to antique dealers in Ames.
It's in churchyards and front yards, labeling the season and decorations as religious. It encourages us to remember the words of Linus van Pelt, the speech that proclaims "That's what Christmas is all about."
It's in the ornament swaps that you see, the ones in which strangers and friends take part, the ones in which decorations are mailed for hundreds, for thousands, of miles in hopes of being loved.
And, indeed, they are. They are loved and viewed and held and stroked and hung upon trees. They are photographed and shared, admired and cared for. They are taken respectfully, loved because they were made with care and thought and representation.
I must thank you, Mary, for the effort you put into mine. I must thank you for showcasing the first two felt ornaments I have ever made, the ornaments I so desperately wanted you to like. When I look at what I gave you, I feel guilty--feel as if I could have done more, could have made something spectacular, something bright and colorful and worthy. I feel guilty because you made me something worth savoring; you reminded me that there are wonderful people in the world, and that, when you least expect it, the network of blogs can introduce you to the kindness of strangers.
That same kindness, that same love, that same "thing" that seems to be everywhere, anywhere is at home. It is in the living room, the kitchen. It's in the air my mother spins, in the words she sings as she bakes and cooks and makes and creates.
It's in the streets, dangling from lamps and wires and making the night drives a little more merry, a little more bright. It's even in the parking lots of grocery stores and bedecked banks. It's in the most expected places, the least expected places. It brightens and enlightens, sparkles and dazzles and mesmerizes. It keeps our gaze, keeps it upward.
It's in the other ornaments I make, the ones I attempt and stitch and argue with as I accidentally stab myself with the needle. "There's joy somewhere in this," I remind myself as I suck my sore thumb.
It's in the finished ornaments I mail--the ones I mail to Michigan, Minnesota, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky, Iowa, Indiana, Italy, Australia. It's everywhere, in every state, in every country. It's on trees and packages, dining room tables and boxes.
It's in the air, on Christmas trees and houses, in streets and store windows. It's in coats and pockets, gloves and shoes and smiles. It outlines gutters and door frames, brightens living rooms. It's in affection, in smiles and laughter and love. It's there, everywhere, inside and outside.