Welcoming a Quiet and Sincere Holiday Spirit
Hello blogiverse friends! How nice it feels to settle back in with you the morning after a holiday weekend.
I spent the long weekend in the country at my mom and stepdad’s farm. I drank tea in front of the fireplace, read a dropout memoir in bed, stayed up too late with a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon, took a late afternoon walk through bare-limbed trees with my husband, made my way through a stack of my mom’s magazines, and ate my fill of cheese and crackers. It felt restful and quiet and restorative in some important way. I feel now like I am on a precipice. Maybe it’s the end of one chapter, beginning of another; maybe it’s simply an end-of-the year feeling. But I’m in a taking stock kind of place, trying to figure out what makes my life feel especially delightful and meaningful, and considering how to get more that it.
I’m approaching the holidays with the same sense of, “How can I make you a reflection of what’s really important to me?” I cannot resist a trip to Marshall’s, cannot pass up its indoor garage sale, what-gem-may-hide-under-this-pile-of-crap appeal. I stood in line there in the early evening on Saturday with the carols blasting away and the place already filled shoppers who seemed suspiciously ornery for so early in the shopping season. Maybe it was because of those fireside cups of tea or quiet walks, but I felt a separation between the holiday madness––the slow, snaking line, the automated voice barking that register three is now open––and me. Who knows: in two weeks time, when I’ve been looking for the perfect gifts and coming up short, I might not feel so cocooned in a shield of holiday protection. But it seems like something worth hanging on to, or trying to figure out how to hang on to. To resist the “madness” and hang on to a sense of quiet and peace.
I’ve been thinking about the importance of tradition and ritual lately. My family is in the midst of a several years-long growing pain. The kids haven’t yet had kids, so there are no little ones to fill the holidays with excitement and squeals. But marriage splits Christmas day in half between our nuclear unit and in-laws, siblings spreading out like a melting snowflake on a window pane. We haven’t figured out yet how to make the day work, how to make that midday parting not seem like a downer. We’re working on it.
It’s not yet December but I’m already thinking about ways to maximize the best parts of this season and minimize the less likable bits. I love the festive cocktails, twinkling lights, holiday crafts, Christmas cards, blooming paperwhites, big boisterous dinners, cookies, watching When Harry Met Sally and Anne of Green Gables, hauling out the Christmas records, snow. I’m less fond of big crowds in stores, eating too many rich foods, feeling like you’re spending more than you have, social obligations rather than real warmth and community, feeling frantic, disappointed people and expectations. Like many people, I enjoy the wind-up more than the Big Day. Maybe it’s worth instituting some December traditions to enjoy this all-too-brief period of light, togetherness and revelry in a natural season of darkness and solitude. I’m thinking holiday happy hours, perhaps? What are you all doing to make this season feel meaningful to you? And how are you keeping your sense of quiet and calm?
Photo credit: George Deputee