My Favorite Holiday Tradition

I find it difficult to choose only one holiday tradition.

There are, after all, so many things about the holidays to love; like wrapping gifts; gatherings of families and friends; baking the goodies; finding and decorating the tree; caroling. There are so many things to love about this time of year that I struggle to identify one that is more special than the others.

For many years I have gone to the beautiful Burke Hollow Church and shared in community candlelight caroling organized by the Blake family. I love Christmas carols and to hear them sung by the people from my own community who only gather this one time of year is a profound experience that brings tears to my eyes just thinking of it.

Then there is the tree. I try to do something different with the tree every year. One year it was covered with decorations made from seashells; once it was a family tree decorated with photos of family members; another was the nature tree decorated with things found in nature; there was the year of the paper stars; and this year is the cat safe tree with only lights and bows.

2010 tree

I also love making and baking goodies this time of year. There are some of the long-time favorites – Portinos and Homemade Irish Cream; sometimes there’s peanut brittle; and there are always cookies to decorate; and there are always cheesecakes. I often try something new and this year it was the Italian Christmas cookies and they are delish! The fun comes in thirds – 1/3 baking – 1/3 packaging – 1/3 sharing with others.

DSCN0066 - Copy

I am also a big fan of Christmas stockings. The stocking is one of the traditions I have always anticipated with great excitement. It’s the thing I think of first when I wake up Christmas morning (maybe because it’s the thing I did last Christmas Eve). My mom still finds things to include in my stocking which I love! I love looking for stocking stuffers when I’m out shopping. There are a lot of things I might give up on Christmas, but never the stockings. I love them so much that one year I began collecting them – I actually thought at one time that I would make a new stocking every year. I managed that for 3 or 4 years but haven’t made a stocking in a long time. . .

This year Dave and I have agreed that we are only doing stockings – no gifts for one another that won’t fit in the stockings. I think he’s going to be surprised what’s in his stocking this year! And just so you know – we have really big stockings!

While all of that, and more, warms my heart during this season, I believe my favorite tradition is the gathering of family at our house on Christmas Eve. I begin thinking about this gathering as soon as Thanksgiving is over. I plan the invitation, think about the menu, spend days preparing, and relish in that evening when the family is altogether in the glow of the candles and tree lights.

It is that time that I anticipate the most during the holidays, thinking about each person that will be there. Over the years there have been many variations on who was there, and many variations on the food we share. In life, people go through many changes. This tradition started with my first husband and father of my youngest child. Even though the house wasn’t done and space was tight, none of that mattered. What mattered was that most of the family was here together.

That family has changed over time – new spouses, new children, new aunts and uncles, new friends – yet it doesn’t change the feeling of warmth and togetherness. We continue to come together as a family, which in my mind is what’s most important.

Here’s to family!
Irish cream 1

Writing Prompt #136

blog wordle

Tis the season. . .

2014 Tree

2014 Tree

Today you are tasked with writing about your favorite holiday tradition!

Caroling?
Baking?
Shopping?
Wrapping?
Public Service?
Family Fun?

Whatever it is, take a moment to write it down and share, why it is your favorite.

By the way, I would love to see some of those shared here via the comments section. . .just sayin’!

Happy writing!

On My Mind

There have been a lot of things on my mind lately.

Truth: there are ALWAYS a lot of things on my mind, yet lately I seem very much aware of the things on my mind.

Yes, TRUTH is one of them.
Along with~

family
right thinking
yoga
balance
giving
change
life
death
acceptance
giving
need
hearing
mindfulness
change
equity
wellness
friendship
loss
beliefs
sugar
addiction
giving
change
balance.

Just to name a few.

When I put all the ideas together they make sense; they belong together; at least for me, for now.
Because of that combination of thoughts I’ve begun immersing myself in the ideas.

I feel like I am, once again, at a crossroads and am excited about the path I am about to walk down in my life’s journey.
I don’t entirely know where that path leads, but it feels like the right one to take, and so I will.
Over the years, I have come to trust in the universe and that it will watch out for me, if I trust.

Sometimes I wonder what that means – the universe. Just to say it – the universe – makes it sound like a vast entity that cannot quite be described because it is everything.

Every.
Thing.

And I trust that it is watching over me. But here’s the caveat – the universe is actually ME watching out for ME. It is me trusting myself enough to know when to travel a new trail or when to embrace a new opportunity presenting itself.

The universe is that vastness within the self that trusts itself implicitly to recognize opportunities and understand that they are not random, but rather have crossed your path for a reason.

Knowing that I am about to embark on this trek down a new path I have been more observant of the things crossing my path that will help me along the way:

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

“What could be more unpredictable than our thoughts and emotions: do you have any idea what you are going to think of feel next? OUr mind, in fact, is as empty, as impermanent and as transient as a dream. Look at a thought: It comes, it stays, and it goes. The past is past, the future not yet risen, and even the present thought, as we experience it, becomes the past. The only thing we really have is nowness.”

The Gifts of Perfection: Letting Go of Who You Think You Are by Brene Brown
Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives by Michael Newton
Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness by Donna Farhi

Encounters and conversations with many people,

The photography of Jon Olsen,

and this poem, by Kevin Young

Negative

Wake to find everything black
what was white, all the vice
versa—white maids on TV, black

sitcoms that star white dwarfs
cute as pearl buttons. Black Presidents,
Black Houses. White horse

candidates. All bleach burns
clothes black. Drive roads
white as you are, white songs

on the radio stolen by black bands
like secret pancake recipes, white back-up
singers, ball-players & boxers all

white as tar. Feathers on chickens
dark as everything, boiling in the pot
that called the kettle honky. Even

whites of the eye turn dark, pupils
clear & changing as a cat’s.
Is this what we’ve wanted

& waited for? to see snow
covering everything black
as Christmas, dark pages written

white upon? All our eclipses bright,
dark stars shooting across pale
sky, glowing like ash in fire, shower

every skin. Only money keeps
green, still grows & burns like grass
under dark daylight.

Traveling a new path is like receiving a unique and wonderful gift. I plan to treasure the gift and put it to good use over time.

The adventure of this life is a wonderful thing.

I LOVE HOLIDAY PREPARATIONS!!!

Yup! It’s the holiday season and I am ecstatic!

I love the holidays!

I love food!

I love giving gifts!

I love decorating!

I love cooking for others!

I love Christmas carols!

I love my new fireplace!

I love twinkly lights!

Each year I decorate the tree a little differently; some years it’s all seashell decorations; some years it’s all handmade decorations from nature; sometimes it’s all gold; and sometimes it’s family themed.

This year it’s all about being cat proof.

So, it’s white twinkle lights and red bows.

That’s it.

Simple.

And safe.

2014 Tree

2014 Tree

I usually create my own centerpiece for the holiday table, but this year I found this one at – of all places – Home Depot!

There ya’ go. . .

Centerpiece from Home Depot!

Centerpiece from Home Depot!

Tonight I made a new holiday treat and I have to say, they are adorable AND delicious!

Italian Christmas Cookies

Italian Christmas Cookies

I found the recipe HERE on facebook!

I have some sugar cookie dough in the fridge all ready for a cookie baking day with the grand daughters :).

I still need to make the gingerbread cookie dough. . .but the icing is ready and waiting.

When I’m not singing, baking, decorating, wrapping, shopping, or planning, I will be sitting in this cozy little corner of the living room, next to the fire, enjoying the simple peace and simplicity of life at its best!

cozy corner

It’s true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers. But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you’ll find you’ve created family traditions and lasting memories. Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul.

Caroline Kennedy

Writing Prompt #135

blog wordle

Today’s prompt is to write about disappointment.

Did you ever get your hopes up and have them dashed. Sometimes we get excited about something (like a big snow storm)
and when it doesn’t happen we feel disappointed (and cheated out of a snow day).

Today you can write about things that you have found disappointing, how you handle disappointment. . .or perhaps consider the IDEA of disappointment; why does it happen? Can we prevent it?

Or, if you’re feeling particularly creative, you could make a list of as many words as you can think of that can be made from the letters in the word DISAPPOINTMENT:

To get you started – point, sap, ape, meant