24 November 2009

thoughts on the holidays

Crisp, clear winter sky, looking East.
Shot by Toby from our last house.

The holidays are just about officially here. How are you feeling about it? Joyful? Can't wait? Dreading it all? Ho-hum? Me, I'm feeling pretty good about it all.

This is big for me, as I'm someone who used to yearn for escape and avoidance from everything holiday-related. The dread would set in right after Halloween. Of course, most of this has had to do with loss: my parents, mostly. Mom, while I was in college; Dad, more recently. Losing them kind of took all the air out of lots of formerly fun things. I'd drag myself through the whole holiday exercise, with no baking, no card-sending, no good stuff... and then promptly fall into a mid-Winter depression. To be repeated each year. Such fun.... sigh.

BUT (sorry, that was depressing). Maybe it's our lovely little boy, but even just since being pregnant last year, something has changed in my outlook almost on a chemical level. There's a sense of newness and lightness. I'm not religious, so it's not some sort of epiphany. But, now, I look forward to all that's lovely about the holidays, which are also things that I used to like: the twinkling lights, the homey scents, baking, crafting, seeing friends, (really) enjoying family, looking up at the stars, the winter stillness outside, listening to corny music. (Toby introduced me to the delights of the John Denver & the Muppets Christmas Album--priceless! Can I play it NOW?!?! Oh, too soon? ...How about now?).

Note that I did not mention visits to the mall or any of those insane "doorbuster" sales. Ick.

Now, as I approach the holidays, I find there are so many opportunities to fall into the old traps: stuff you really don't want to do. So, I love a good set of tips on how to gracefully and peacefully move through the holidays. You too? Rachel at Heart of Light is doing a series of posts this week called "Holidays, Managed." Sweet, stylish, sane stuff.

And, since I love lists, I decided to compose my own: a loose list of things I definitely want to try to do during the holidays. You know, so I make sure I don't do other stuff. Like visit the mall :) Ahem, here goes:
  • Baking. Preferably with a friend... and then everything gets wrapped up in super cute packaging and mostly given away. Especially to all those people I always say I should bake for: the super nice UPS guy, the organic bin delivery guy, our acupuncturist. I'm collecting recipe contenders now. (Any faves?)
  • Shopping for cute packaging/wrapping material (see above). This may sound like drudgery to some, but it's heaven to me: first the accumulating, and then the using. I think a trip to The Packaging Store and Japan Town is in order.
  • Hunting for gifts early on Etsy. It's where the best stuff lives, but leaving this type of stuff to the last minute means you're out of luck and heading to the mall. Boo.
  • Sending out holiday cards. Like, actually sending them, and not on Dec 24.
  • Crafting. Dunno why, but I'm having a felt moment right now. I'm thinking of whipping up some stylish, tone-on-tone white stockings for our little family and new home. Also, I'd like to make some handmade decor for our tree. Like this or maybe some simple paper-loop garlands (which I would always make with my Mom). I just need to do some sort of crafting. Maybe it'll help kick me off on more crafting next year.
  • Be prepared for fun. As Rachel mentions in the aforementioned posts, stocking up on wine and appetizer fixings just makes you want to invite people over and celebrate effortlessly.
  • Special Sunday dinner(s) with friends and family. Sights, sounds, tastes and scents.
  • Quiet moments with tea, a book, some music. Brisk walks in the canyon on cold, clear days or moody, misty mornings.
So, what's on your holiday "must-do" list? I love hearing about other people's traditions--big or small--so don't be shy!


  1. John Denver, did you say? Girl.. you know I love some JD! Anytime of the year,by the way. xoxo

  2. oh goodness. the holidays are here! i do have to say that my most favorite holiday traditions are pretty much centered around our now defunct holiday party. party planning, decorating the tree while munching on oven roasted tomatoes and goat cheese crostinis and shipping champagne. I am so excited for our baking day!!!! I too love the packaging store, maybe we could go together?!?! Also, anytime you want to have a craft night, you know that I'm your girl! yay for the holidays!

  3. N: I knew that would strike a chord with you! You so heart JD.

    K: Good memories from GG Ave... that holiday party was an institution. Remember all the crazy themes? We were nuts. In the best way :) ..... and yes, let's definitely hit the packaging store!

  4. I just stumbled on this today. . . almost a year after you wrote it. What a wonderful writer you are. I like the inspiration it gives me for the 2010 holidays.


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