It's holiday time in Pecan Springs, and the whole town is brimming with holiday spirit.
China and Ruby have been unusually busy (it's lucky that there are no mysteries to solve!), and their tea room are decorated floor to ceiling with fresh cedar boughs cut from the local hillsides, pine cones from East Texas, mistletoe from the mesquite and hackberry trees around Pecan Springs, dozens of gingerbread ornaments handmade by the kids the Hobbit House Children's Bookstore, and enough red velvet ribbon to reach all the way to San Antonio. China, Ruby, and Cass have invited all their friends to join them for a Christmas Cinnamon Tea this coming Saturday afternoon. There'll be lots of spicy-laden goodies and a sparkling bowl of cinnamon-cranberry glog circled with a rosemary wreath and red ribbons, and a little take-home herbal gift for everyone: a small bag of Rose Potpourri, which some of China's friends made in a potpourri workshop. You're invited too, of course, so be sure to put it on your calendar!
After you leave the Cinnamon Tea, you'll want to head for Pecan Park, where the town fathers have erected a large Christmas tree decorated with hundreds of lights. They'll be lighting the tree as soon as it gets dark on Saturday night. (When they lit the tree last year, all the lights in Pecan Springs went out, so they've taken special care with the wiring this year. Billy Bob Bunch, who is in charge of city utilities, promises that this won't happen again. Pauline Perkins, the Pecan Springs mayor, promises that if it does, Billy Bob's head will be the first to roll.)
When the tree is lit, the town mothers will be ladling out cups of hot mulled cider (the same cider that Ruby always serves for her Halloween party) and handing out dozens of rosemary cookies baked by members of the Myra Merryweather Herb Guild, who always like to lend a hand with the Christmas doings. When everybody has their cider and cookies, Mrs. Reedy will lead the Baptist choir in a selection of carols. You're invited to join in, of course. (If you don't know the words, fake it--nobody will know the difference.) Santa will be there too, with candy for good children and coals for bad--although we know that there are no bad children in Pecan Springs, where all the children are all above average.
After the carols are over and the cider, candy, and cookies have all disappeared, the merchants on the town square hope you will be feeling warm and jolly and inspired to do some Christmas shopping. The courthouse has been draped with lights, a village of elves has taken up residence in the northwest corner of the courthouse lawn (opposite from the Nativity scene on the southwest corner), and the Sophie Briggs Historical Museum is holding an open house so you can admire the famous Sophie Briggs collection of 257 ceramic frogs. The merchants have agreed to keep their shops open until nine, which is quite a change of pace for Pecan Springs, where everyone shuts up shop at five on the dot and goes home to hearth and family. You're invited to shop 'til you drop, or at least until you run out of money.
They hope you do. That way, they'll have a merry Christmas, too!