Friday, December 12, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things...

Bare branches, red berries. Nothing prettier.
The Christmas season is like a stone dropping in a pond. It starts with a small splash on Thanksgiving, then ripples through the month of December, spreading far and wide, until it quietly dissipates into a deep, cold, dark winter. All that's left are a few needles on the rug.

But while it's here, it can be dazzling, magical and enchanting. Most years. But every year, someone, somewhere is having one that doesn't feel like the others. I was there a couple of years ago. If you're there now, all I can say to you is; hang in there. It will get better.

 And then, there are those (like me again) going through a holiday transition. For me, (and probably at some point, for everyone), Christmas has changed. No longer at the helm of Christmas day activities. With family spread over several states and sons understandably with other families now to juggle into their schedules, I've become the piece of puzzle that needs to be "fit" into the holiday picture. Takes a little getting used to. 

But recently, I read a post on Facebook that made all the sense in the world to me. "As we get older, it's not what we get, or even what we give, that makes Christmas special, it's really the things that can't be bought at all." I so get this. With that said, I gathered a list of things that make me happy during the season that don't require a credit card...because they are priceless:
  1. The sight of a Christmas tree tied to the top of a car heading home. I smile every time I see one.
  2. The sound of the Salvation Army ringing bells on a city street, preferably New York. There are just not enough adjectives to describe this city at Christmas...
  3. ...that being said, I must add the smell of chestnuts burning on street corners. Along with the brief warmth they provide on a cold, windy day. I never tire of this.
  4. Snow flurries. Not a major storm, just light snow falling softly. In A Charlie Brown Christmas (30 minutes that I think defines this season perfectly), Lucy says to Linus, who is sticking out his tongue to catch a flake, "December snow is too early to taste." Not for me Lucy. And it never will be.
  5. A warm freshly baked chocolate chip cookie and the memory of two little boys standing on chairs beside me helping to make them.
  6. A choir. You can play all the Jingle Bell versions you want. A choir will stop me in my tracks every time. 
  7. Okay, this one will sound a little strange, but...bare trees need to be added to this list. I love stark branches reaching into the sky. When I was very young, there was a commercial on TV, where an animated figure, walked into the woods to cut down a tree. When he bent down to get his saw, he heard a bird singing, looked up and realized that the barren tree was still a home for something. He then pulled his saw to his chin like a violin, picked up a broken branch from the ground and played "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Then the words "Merry Christmas from CBS" would appear. I looked for it every year. It may have been the start of my fascination and understanding that even bare trees serve a purpose.
  8. A decorated fireplace mantle. Be it candles, fresh greens or little white lights, festive mantels and a warm fire going make a real statement in the holiday dressed home. If I walked into a room with a Christmas tree and a fireplace, I would look at the mantle first.
  9. A hot cup of tea! Okay, it has to be bought, but it's minimal. And the pleasure it gives is immeasurable. Maybe it's an age thing, but tea at night has replaced milk for me. (It could also be that as my sole supporter, I try to keep the thermostat down and a fire going.) Whatever the reason, hot tea is working for me.
  10. I love that this season of "getting" somehow brings out the need to "give" in most. Not just to the people we love, but more importantly, to those we don't even know. The ability to be charitable, is what's best in all of us. It's a gift in itself.
  11. Quiet time. A sign outside of a local church reads "Don't lose the Christmas hush in the Christmas rush".  Which brings to mind, Mannheim Steamroller's version of Silent Night. Be still my heart. This is the best. 
  12. And this year, I love that next year, my first grandchild will be gazing at the lights on a tree. And I love that my youngest son is "officially" bringing a girl into this family that everyone already adores. 
Things do change. We can't control that. But we can learn to adapt. Learn to make ourselves happy. I'm convinced that it truly are the sounds, the sites, the scents of Christmas that make it so special. Light a fire, make some tea, or take a walk in the woods. You won't find what is best about this very special season in your wallet.

The Christmas Hush...

Ironically, as I'm writing this, the movie White Christmas is playing in the background, and Bing Crosby is singing "When you are worried, and you can't sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep." Now there is a list that could go on for a very long time! Merry Christmas.


  1. Beautiful JoAnn. Wishing you warm fires, hot tea, softly falling snow, silence and special moments all season long.

  2. To you as well Tami. Let the storms stay behind us as our sails hold strong! Merry Christmas to you and Macy!