More holiday lights than usual glow in our neighborhood this season. My husband, Lee, started decorating our maple, apple, cherry and pear trees on Thanksgiving weekend and then hauled out the ladder to hang multicolored icicle lights under the eaves. A glittery gold angel sways from a tree branch in every winter breeze. She seems to float in the air at night, when no one can see the filament thread that keeps her suspended a few feet above the ground. As the coronavirus continues to surge and holiday gatherings turn upside down, maybe we all need a sparkly angel. When our older granddaughter celebrated her 8th birthday earlier this month, Lee and I — masked and bundled up against the cold — met the birthday girl on her front porch to watch her open her presents. We were there to see the joy in her smile, hear her laughter, and exchange air hugs and blown kisses from a distance.

Last week I set up a Christmas workshop in our dining room, where I wrapped and tagged gifts for the two children I sponsored during Moscow’s annual Christmas for Kids drive. Before I started on presents for my own family, I double-checked my Naughty and Nice list and discovered a forged entry. Down at the bottom of the “Nice” column, somebody had scratched “BBK” in muddy claw prints. My Maine coon cat, Benjamin BadKitten, has held the top spot on the “Naughty” list for more than a decade. His perennial rap sheet includes multiple violations of our indoor sanitation code, and his productivity rating as my chief garden staffer bottoms out below zero every year. I reached for my red pen to circle the claw-printed initials and move them into the “Naughty” column, where they belonged. But then I thought of the anxiety I’ve felt through these long months and the comfort I’ve found in Benjamin’s warm, furry bulk on my lap; the trust in his green eyes when he bumps his head against my chin, and his sweet purr when I lay my newspaper aside and settle him beside me on the armchair. I left the red pen on my desk.

Christmas movies will be my soundtrack next week when I’m baking and frosting holiday cookies. Each of the movies’ sugary plots is a variation on the Hallmark Channel’s four or five recyclable story arcs and must end happily, with a chaste, romantic kiss. One of the two main characters will leave a high-stress career in the big city and reunite with their soulmate in an adorable small town. The snow will fall gently, the local cafe will be charming, and the spunky heroine will rally the townspeople to save the Christmas festival. I can tune out while I read a recipe card or measure ingredients for biscotti, and then pick up the story again and know exactly what will happen next. There will be no breaking news. No politics. No meanness of spirit. The entire two-hour movie experience is like kitchen therapy. Sometimes there’s even a sparkly angel.

Sydney Craft Rozen is grateful to her readers for their warm responses to her columns, and she sends wishes for peace and hope in the new year. She and BBK will return in January. Email her at

Recommended for you