Holiday Bliss


While I savor all of the seasons, my most favorite is the mini-season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We have just enjoyed the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the delicious meal, and the time spent with family and friends, and today our thoughts turn to Christmas.  I have never been one to succumb to the Black Friday mania of shopping.  I am too impatient a soul to stand in lines for a bargain, when, most likely, I can find everything I need a bit closer to Christmas as retailers begin to drop their prices to move merchandise quickly.  That being said, this Black Friday morning I am sitting quietly in the light of winter dawn, reflecting on this season I love so much.

When my children were young (and I was younger), these few weeks were filled with frantic decorating, baking, shopping, family outings, and the general chaos of too much to accomplish in too short a time.  Now, however, my house is quieter and my days less hectic, and I have time to treasure the moments that compose this loveliest of holiday seasons.  I wasn’t preparing our Thanksgiving dinner at my house, so I was able to gather my decorations from their storage places and place them around this beloved home of mine.  The candles are lit in my front windows, the little tree is lovingly decorated and lit, and the house is filled with greenery, snowmen, St. Nicholas figurines, and much-loved old ornaments.  How warm and inviting this old house looks in its Christmas finery.  Today I will stop at a local garden shop for evergreen swags to tie around the porch posts.

Our limited retirement income has precluded the massive shopping trips and gift-giving of my younger years, but I still enjoy choosing gifts for my grandchildren.  No longer do I spend hours choosing beautiful wrapping paper and lovely ribbons to wrap gifts for everyone.  My little ones are much more interested in the gift than how lovingly it is wrapped.

I find that I have much more time to linger and savor the beauty of this season — the Christmas trees and Menorahs placed in small town gathering places, the holiday celebrations and house tours in local villages, the familiar carols, the scents of pine and bayberry and the aromas of Christmas baking, the warmth of a fire gently burning, gathering with friends and family for celebrations, and quiet teatimes with those dear to my heart.   And, of course, the highlight of this most sacred of seasons is the Christmas Eve service, when the lights are dimmed in church, candlelight is passed from one person to another and held ever so gently, as we sing Silent Night, and I once again feel the wonder of Mary as she looked down on her precious new baby, the Light of our World. 

No matter how busy your own days are, try to savor the special moments of this season!



November’s Child


November is my favorite month — it is the month of my birth, under the sign of Sagittarius.  I am not a great believer in astrology, but I do credit my happy spirit and optimism to my birth sign, as well as my love of nature.  November is a month of transition, in which the fiery colored trees and bushes have, for the most part, scattered their leaves to the ground, and we are left with a stark landscape of leafless trees and  gardens put to bed for the winter.  To me, it is beautiful.  From the time I was a little girl, I always looked forward to my birthday — in those early years, dreaming of the gifts I would receive — in these later year giving thanks for one more year of life.

Thanksgiving is the highlight of November — a time to gather with family and friends over a bountiful table, lovely decorations, lively conversations, and a sense of belonging to this diverse group we call family.  There is a sameness every year that is a comfort — recipes passed down through the generations, a large turkey slowly roasting in the oven, the same jokes, the same arguments, the same thankfulness.

For me, Thanksgiving ushers in the Christmas season.  Over Thanksgiving weekend I struggle downstairs with my collection of decorations — my tabletop Christmas tree (as my children grew up, so went the days of trudging through the woods to find a “real” tree), my collection of St. Nicholas figures. the nativity set which has been lovingly played with by my children and grandchildren, my cuddly snowmen, the garland, the candles, and the collection of old Christmas tree bulbs that belonged to my beloved grandmother.

As I write this morning, the sky is overcast, rain is forecast;  the beauty of October is long behind us, and the loveliness of our first snowstorm lies somewhere in the future.  November is a time for looking back on the months and years past, and looking forward to the beauty and grace of the winter season.  I am content this morning,  snuggled in my cozy chair, watching the little birds skitter back and forth to the feeders, silence all around me.   And I feel blessed to have been a November baby (actually blown in on the tails of a late season hurricane here in New York State) — thankful that I find joy in the simple things of life, and sometimes bubble over with happiness for the precious gift of family and friends that I treasure.  Maybe the month of our birth is always our favorite month — it certainly is mine!