Monday, December 12, 2011

A Christmas Sort of Ramble

I am feeling particularly moved by the holiday spirit this year--more so than in previous years.  I found myself cleaning house last week while singing The Little Drummer Boy.  I put up the Christmas tree even before December had started (I was fetching my Christmas card wreath after receiving my second card and figured while I was down there in the Decorations Box I might as well just decorate!).   My calender is dotted with potlucks, parties, and gift exchanges which I look forward to.  Our bunco group had our holiday party last week to kick the season off right.  It was so fun.  The gathering with loved ones, in the best of spirits, in a cozy house filled with a laughter and yummy smells, has to be one of the very best parts of the holiday for me. 
Christmas is right around the corner and I feel a real sense of calm and joy about it for a change.  I am so very much enjoying the vibrant magenta of the blooming Christmas cacti at the library.  It snowed again --just in time for the arrival of Matt's brother from California--dusting everything with a delightful, bright, glimmering blanket and I was thrilled.  There is talk of sledding soon, but we still need a little more snow.  Matt's mother took me to listen to Christmas carols at St. Patrick's last night.  I love traditional holiday carols.  They make me happy, and sometimes inexplicably choked up.  I learned that Silent Night does that to Sharon every time, too.  Matt made the two batches of white chocolate.  White chocolate screams Christmas to me.  It is the only time of year that I eat it making it a very, very special treat.  Several of our neighbors have strung lights from the trees and along the rooftops and Matt and I have had conversations about which lights are our favorites, the pros and cons of the old fashioned large bulbs compared to the new, tiny LED ones, the baffling popularity of those enormous inflatable contraptions that are all over the place.  We took a short detour to look at lights on the way home from work the night it snowed.  Matt wanted to look at the house covered in blue lights as they reflected off the new, sparkly snow.  Afterwards, when we arrived home, a mouse had caught itself in the garbage can.  Even that seemed like a sign of the quickly approaching Christmas time.  It wouldn't be December without mice invading the house despite our best efforts to keep them out.  At least this one had the courtesy to fall into the empty kitchen trash can, which since it was empty, proved impossible to escape from.  Hmmmm....maybe that last bit wasn't specifically Christmasy....well, unless you live at my house and then you'd realize it really is a part of the season.
Yesterday I finished wrapping all my gifts, except one, which I still have to figure out.  Last week I'd opened my stash box of gifts I'd been collecting all year--things I'd picked up at thrift stores and the craft shows we participate in.  I spread the gifts out on the sofa making a list of who each one went to.  I was immensely surprised with myself.  That one gift aside I am finished with Christmas gifts this year already.  Usually I am just starting to think about it at this time with the result that I purchase several gifts impulsively, first-hand, at the last minute, out of obligation, feeling guilty about the whole thing and uncertain that people will like/need what I got them or that the post office will get it there on time.  That feeling made me dread Christmas gifts.  It is silly, I now realize.  Lacking the deep spiritual foundation of the holiday (which I had cast off myself as a teen, but am reclaiming as an adult) I was only participating in the commercial side of it which I hated and was not me.  This year feels different.  A lot different.  Last year was pretty good in regards to those things, but this year.... even better.  I feel as if I've finally found my Christmas.  I've found a way to celebrate that moves with my spirit as well as the traditional spirit of the season and the joy of giving and being with others.  I think I've finally found traditions that make me happy.  But next year I do think I'll try to add an Advent wreath to the mix.  I always loved that as a girl and I think the candle flame would add to the wonder, and gratitude of the season.

Whew....that last paragraph came out of no where.  It wasn't really what I'd intended to write in this post.

What I'd meant to write was that I was pleased with each of the gifts I'd selected over the year as I looked them over.  I'd picked each of these gifts because I knew that so-and-so would love it....not because it was December 15th and I needed to get so-and-so a present.  Each gift was special and unique, many handmade.  None were from a big box store, mass produced in China, purchased out of duty.  They were gifts I was proud to be giving and that I really feel will be appreciated by those that receive them.   It was a magical feeling to realize this. 

It made me so happy.  It made me so thankful.  And if it is possible, which is apparently is, it made me all that much more filled with Christmas cheer.
Matt made two batches of white chocolate.  The one in the back is made with vanilla bean, the one in the front made with vanilla extract.  The vanilla bean was definitely better, but its white chocolate after all so they were both pretty darn super.
(That said I don't want to come across too judgmental sounding so I'll add this: I am sure some people are great at finding the perfect, most thoughtful, beloved gift at box stores too, but I wasn't and I didn't like it.  But, that is just me.)

2 comments:

  1. What a lovely Christmas post. Isn't it true of all of us, that we have to find a way to celebrate Christmas that fits with our personality?
    I absolutely love the snow scene photo. I'm guessing it was taken at a local park. My s-i-l is a teacher with the Billings school system. She lives near a park, called Pioneer Park, I believe.
    I really enjoy Christmas lights too. When we shopped in Great Falls we saw many in the residential areas.
    The owl photo I posted on my blog was a picture Maria found somewhere. I have made a pattern and have an owl almost finished. It seems to be an owl Christmas. I have made stuffed owl pillows, potholders and now the ornaments. What fun!
    The carols at the church must have been such a treat! I hope the season holds much joy for you........Denise

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  2. Pioneer Park is my local park. It is just a short walk from my house.

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to ready my rather wordy Christmas ramble!

    I hope your Christmas season is very, very merry! (And filled with lots of cute owls!)

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