Perfect Christmas

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Who would have thought we’d be missing snow after last Winter? But alas, it is Christmas Eve and raining pretty steady. I tell the kids, if it were just a bit colder, it would be snow…
But I don’t mind. Christmas is in the heart, not contingent on any “just right” setting. Snow is nice, perfect decorations are fun to look at, a beautifully set table a joy to behold, but none if it necessary. We forget, our Holiday traditions are an amalgamation of countless Christmases past, not something that happened at any one place at any one time!
So relax: If you don’t get all the lights up this year, or the figgy pudding goes flat, or you never did quite get all 7 varieties of cookies baked, it’s ok. Something to aim for next year. Who wants a Holiday celebration to be identical every year?
Keep the focus on family, on Love, and Hope. Laugh at yourself, and enjoy others. Take pictures of the mishaps, as well as the “perfect” moments. You may find, in the coming years, that you enjoy those memories more, memories filed with laughter rather than stress.
If you find yourself thinking you “can’t wait for it to be over,” then you are living someone else’s Holiday. Take back ahold of it and make it yours. What do you want to be doing? Do it. Better to feel the Spirit and have fun!
Love and Blessings to all, and many Hopes for the New Year! ūüôā

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Christmas is almost here…

Yes, it its that time of year, despite best intentions it is but a couple days before Christmas.  Ready or not.

I know, because I have been reading and hearing a steady stream of complaints in person and on-line. ¬†Surprizingly, many people “hate” wrapping resents. ¬†Or shopping for gifts. ¬†Or baking cookies. ¬†Or decorating the tree. ¬†Bah, humbug!

I never cease to wonder at these folks.  How could they have come to hate the work of Christmas?  Maybe a few have a legitimate reason:  bad childhood memories, or loved-ones lost too near Christmas day.  But the overwhelming few are just complaining.  About being Merry.  And sharing. And celebrating.  Or is this not what they are doing?  Perhaps this is the issue.

I will certainly admit, battling other crazed and hostile shoppers in a store is not alot of fun. ¬†But I am always so grateful that I have the money to spend of gifts for people that are very important to me. ¬†When gift-giving, I remain focused on the recipient, I try to get them something that they will delight in, and something they can use often and think fondly of me. ¬†I find that viewing it through this¬†lens, rather than that of what’s on sale, or does everybody else have to have¬†makes¬†it a much more meaningful and enjoyable experience.

As a child, I delighted in wrapping presents.  My kids do now, and I am so glad.  Wrapping gifts means you have gifts to give, and that you are soon to delight someone.  The very colors and textures of the papers, ribbons and bows are enough to get one in the Christmas Spirit!  I recall sitting for hours when I was young, mesmerized by the reflection of the blinking lights on the tree off the dazzling packages below.

Christmas is so special because of the foods.  Cookies and pastries that do not appear until this time are always a welcoming site.  Warm drinks in beautiful glasses, with special treats like marshmallows or whipped cream are so comforting.  These foods  prepare us to desire for the cooler temperatures about to settle in, so as to properly enjoy these gifts of the Season.  Taking the time to prepare these mementos is yet another gift to give to loved-ones, special treats that cannot be gotten at the store.

¬† ¬† ¬†And the tree! It’s arrival always announces the new Christmas season. ¬†It is the place to display family memories, with ornaments made by children (or the parents as children), or of travels, and of special¬†occasions¬†gone by. ¬†We always get a real tree, as nothing beats its aroma and texture, the task of finding the “hole” to place against the wall, and the annual tradition of finding just the right one together, as a family.

Long ago, when so many of these cultural Holiday traditions were created and sustained, life was different, indeed.  Daily life was a little more hands-on work, transportation was sparser and much slower-paced, so often folks lived in relative isolation from each other in the countryside.  And life in cities was very removed from nature, trees and growing things much harder to come by.  The Holidays meant a break from all this:  When folks in rural areas traveled to come together,  candles lighting the way and welcoming guests from far off.  People in towns surrounded themselves with greenery, spices, flowers, all sorts of living things they missed in their daily lives away from the farm.

And the signing! ¬†Caroling was not only a way to spread Christmas cheer and tell the Story of the Season, but also a way to build Community. ¬†Children strained their little ears, practicing in secret and trying so hard to learn the songs. ¬†Older children helped their younger siblings. ¬†Finally mastered them was a sort of coming-of-age, a¬†tangible¬†part of taking one’s place in the group, feeling ¬†fulfilled and accepted. ¬†Something children are missing out on today.

Our new American culture of living everyday like it’s a party has tapped out the true Spirit of the Holiday Season. ¬†We are ¬†bombarded with “special” everyday. ¬†And many of our Christmas “treats” ¬†appear to be able to be bought at the store. ¬†Many take for granted the¬†original¬†work and meaning behind what have become mundane things.

Maybe it is because, as a Farmer, I live closer to the land and to the natural rhythms of the Year.  We really do live all Winter on what we were able to produce all Summer.  Christmas time does mean for us a break in the work, the first chance in many months to see and connect with friends.  And yes, we have set aside our best cuts of meats, favorite items from the garden and begin baking special treats.

But, gee, I don’t know…. ¬†I think Christmas does still live in the Heart, and than anyone can find their own reason to keep this time special. ¬†Gratitude and Appreciation are the only ingredients needed to remind us why we celebrate at this time of year, and to remind us to hope and look forward to the next.

I love Christmas!  And I wish Peace and Love to all of you.

Merry Christmas!

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