Winter Solstice and Gifting

141219 DawnThis is my favorite day of the year.  It’s the end of the seasons for me and the beginning of new.  Today is the shortest day and the end of darkness with each day becoming a few minutes longer until June.  It may not seem like minutes of daylight are increasing but I know that we are back on that swing and just knowing that makes the shorter days more tolerable.

Christmas is this week and I have 4 days to finish up all projects for the holiday.  I think I made everyone’s gift this year except one. Most gifts will be delivered today maintaining the lifelong tradition of homemade goodies for neighbors and friends.  The holiday wouldn’t be special for me if baking was taken out of the equation.  The recipes are dusted off – these cookies are only made for the holidays.  The smells and tastes bringing childhood back to me as they are molded and baked (and eaten with the numerous cups of coffee needed to pull this off).  The last things made yesterday were the dog biscuits for Chester’s friends.

The gift giving for family has been dialed back.  I’ve had to purchase some raw material but for the most part none of it remotely resembled the finished product.  I’ve given each individual a lot of thought and put the spirit of that into each piece made.  I’m hoping they feel the love because that’s was the gift is really all about, a token.

I’m fortunate to have the ability to do this.  I sometimes think that everyone is capable of making their gifts. I honestly think they should try, the gift is so much more meaningful for the gifted and the giver.  I also realize that telling my loved ones to make me something instead of buying it can put on a lot of pressure.  For those that aren’t confident in their ability to create this can be a serious burden.  I also think I say that to push them into the mindset of crafting and art.  Doing so is a gift in itself – you will never know the satisfaction of creating something with your hands until you try.

I’m putting everyone on notice now for next year.  Create your gifts, start thinking about them now.  Do a little search on the internet, you can find a tutorial for everything.  Learn a new skill, even if it’s just a new recipe. Cook a good meal, share with those you love.  For me it’s never the finished product but what went into the creation of it.  What did you learn?  How peaceful did you become while doing it (that may take time).  Put your love into the finished product and the recipient will see it – honest.

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Reflection

141126 Back Forty Snowstorm

I woke up this morning to the silence of a house without power.  It wasn’t unexpected.  Around 5:00 I decided to get up and stoke the wood stove, try to get things together for coffee without a coffee maker.  As I walked down the stairs the lights came on, the furnace fired up and within minutes coffee was hot in my cup.  Ahh, little gifts.

The anticipation of this holiday always keeps me awake the night before.  It’s a throwback from childhood when family gathered at the house for food, fun and the Macy’s parade.  Most of these relatives I only saw once or twice a year.  I loved being surrounded by people who loved me, what child doesn’t?

While lying awake I considered all that I was thankful for, an exercise that I do fairly often.  It keeps things in perspective.  Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  I try to look at everything as being a miracle.

The thing that continues to come into my head as both a miracle and something I am profoundly thankful for is my ongoing reunion with Scott.  It’s been difficult to wrap my head around having a son that is back in my life.  Left as an infant, returned as an adult.  Bone of my bone flesh of my flesh.  Someone who has been with me through most of my life’s journey in spirit yet I was the only one that knew it.

My daughters bringing him into the fold – slowly, cautiously at first then with open arms.  They speak of him with love and amazement at the similarities only relatives have.  My husband helping me work through the demons that have followed me from one lifetime to another.  My friends that continually point out what an amazing story this all is.  A miracle in many, many ways.

Look around you today, take notice of those miracles – those little gifts.  The beauty of the snow, the birds that grace our feeders, the fox tracks through the yard.  Look at the smiles on the faces of those you love. Treasure those messages from those unable to join you for the holiday.  Remember those that have gone before you that made the traditions you celebrate now.

Everything is a miracle.

Happy Thanksgiving!

End of the Season

140104 RaccoonAs quickly as they ramped up the holidays are now over.  This is an occasion for me to breathe a sigh of relief.  The last of the gatherings was this past weekend with all of my family together in one spot.  That’s a rare event but a most welcome one.  The preparations were made in the week before – I researched and made some Harry Potter themed food for my sister’s girls, my sister and my youngest.  Yes, they are all well into adulthood but there is nothing more exciting than experiencing some of the foods that you’ve only read about.  If I could have turned the living room into the great hall at Hogwarts I would have but alas my wand was nowhere to be found.

The traditions around the holidays for us center around food.  This being the first time in 15+ years my brother and sister have been together for a holiday celebration lead me to bring out the suet pudding recipe with the two sauces.  This is a dessert my kids have heard about their entire lives yet had no recollection of having tasted it.  The recipes and mold came to me from my aunt when she passed the responsibility of making the dessert on to me.  I diligently made it year after year until the girls were little and we began spending a good part of the holidays with Bill’s family.  The Alixes were scattered and no one else even considered eating something with the word suet in it.

My sister and brother were ecstatic to see it as dessert and my brother ate three helpings.  It greased the wheels of reminiscing about food and we talked about our comfort foods in exquisite detail. It amazes me the power of taste and smell to bring back memories from so long ago.  It was also wonderful to have my siblings and their families all together to share in the stories even though they find some of the things we eat on the line of disgusting.  You know, it’s never going to stop us from eating it.  I think next time we get together I will make mac and cheese with tomatoes and serve a side of sliced onions and cucumbers in a bowl of cider vinegar and the three of us will sit around the table and talk about childhood.  I’m not sure what the rest of the family will do for food.