What is one of your favorite past-times during the holiday season? What traditions do you hold dear to your heart and carry forth each year?
My husband and I love the nights when we turn on our fireplace (electric heater - one of our best investments!), turn off the lights, and just sit on the couch enjoying each other's company while we drink hot cocoa with whipped cream and watch the tree lights twinkle against the various ornaments.
We will always do that. I can visualize us sitting together sipping cocoa in 50 years. It doesn't happen every night, but when we do take advantage of the opportunity to just stop and listen and be together in quiet, it is a glorious moment and I cherish those evenings.
My sister has some wonderful tips on her blog, Art at Dawn. And truth be told, I've incorporated several of her ideas into our lives in the past (ahem - baking cookies...). Part of the holiday season that we love and loathe at the same time is the frenzied schedules, wild decorating, incessant baking and cooking. But do we have to blindly accept this?
We're trying something new this year. We want to try to capture the same spirit of the season with less stress - less hassle - fewer moments of "I need to catch my breath." How are we attempting it, you ask? Two occasions have already presented themselves:
- Our tree. We used to get a live tree. When Syd was old enough to pull it over, we invested in a beautiful pre-lit artificial tree that was covered in "snow." Last year, however, the "snow" caused rather severe allergic reactions in the three of us while we were putting it up and taking it down, so we decided it was time for Steve to take it to work and we would go back to our live trees. But why spend money and time on that when we had these lovelies packed away? Our three trees have been in storage for nearly 10 years. I wasn't even sure they would work. But once I started setting them up, I loved the way it looked - especially when we set up our growing village for the first time since Syd came along. This was simple to set up, Syd had a ton of fun unpacking the villagers, and the house is just as festive as it would have been with the single tree.
- Our cookies - I love baking. It relaxes me. But when I am trying to balance home, school, laundry, cooking and baking, it can get stressful. Add in the fact that my little chef is old enough to truly help me and wants to, and things can get even more exciting! I decided that we're going to try a single type of cookie this year that allows you to choose different additives to change the flavor. And I don't mean my famous biscotti. I will miss baking my biscotti, but I am excited to try variations on my meringue, and I am looking forward to having my little helper work with me.
I am sure there will be more opportunities and more choices to make as the season progresses. I have no doubts there will be those harried moments. But I also know that I feel more relaxed entering this season than I have in quite some time, and it is a rather enjoyable feeling to experience.
So, as the season begins with tomorrow's Thanksgiving celebrations, what steps are you taking to ensure enjoyment in all you do? How are your plans progressing? In all the memories that filter back to my mind's eye as I think of the holidays, it is the people I remember the most - the visiting with family - and the moments of quiet that punctuate the noise that accompanies those visits. I look forward to having crowds visiting and an abundance of food, but I also look forward to the contrasting solitude and serenity that comes with a moment of silence and a mug of hot cocoa, sitting next to my wonderful husband.