Thursday, December 31, 2009

as 2009 ends

It was a year unlike any other of my life, and one that has taught the lessons of adversity. I think we're getting good at the making lemonade when life hands you lemons thing. We had a power outage for the last night of Chanukah, and sat by candlelight all evening, playing board games, roasting mini- marshmallows in the tiny candle flames, and finally just talking. It was one of the best evenings we've spent.

Next we had a blizzard, and when the shoveling was done, we made a snowman. He is still there, a symbol of the crazy mad laughter that is available no matter what the circumstances. When you strip everything bare, you can see quite clearly how the simplest moments and the humblest things are an invitation to happiness and joyful abandon. The way a cardinal looks against the stark snow. The cat that curls up on a present under the tree. The teenage girls, who for no particular reason decide one day to begin a conversation as if you are someone worth asking.

I walked past the brook I love today, and it was silent with ice, as if holding its breath. There is no breeze. Only expectation, as we wait for the last night to invite our wishes and prayers.

Happy New Year! Dare to dream huge, and may all you envision be yours!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Circle: Chranukah

A clever and talented perfume maker and blogger, Roxana of Illuminated Perfume, asked me to participate in a holiday round robin Advent-ure. For each day of the Christian Advent, a different blogger creates their own little post about scent and its relationship to the experience of the holiday season. If you enjoy my post, check out the links above to read all the posts in this series!

We are a blended tradition family who celebrate the Christmas of my Episcopalian childhood with the Chanukah of my husband's faith, in a season that we now refer to in our household as Chranukah. Time has smoothed the blend, and I can now sing the Hebrew blessings as artfully as my husband hangs outdoor lights of blue and white, but it wasn't always that way.

In our first holiday season together in one household, it became painfully obvious that the plethora of Christmas decoration swallowed up our menorah, the carols hogged the airwaves, and the cookies, candies, and cakes were like painted harlots vying for attention with a singular plate of latkes. My husband and his sons were woefully uncomfortable.

Our new kitten, aptly named Loca, created the comic relief that smoothed over our tension by perpetually stealing baby Jesus from our nativity scene and leaving Him to be found under pillows, in a shoe, or under a chair. One day Baby Jesus went missing, not to be found, and we had a whole Christmas with a manger scene that lacked Jesus.

The next spring, while tending to the new growth in our gardens, my husband burst into the house, holding the tiny sewn figure, and exclaimed "I found Jesus!" My daughter and I laughed ourselves silly! "Don't tell your mother!" "Don't tell my mother what?" "Don't tell your mother that you found Jesus! She'll think we've converted you!"

This story is told every year as we hang ornaments, and put our nativity scene under the tree. We now eat gingerbread Star of David cookies, and send batches to my in-laws who love them. I've become a great latke chef, and make homemade applesauce, so those smells now evoke our holiday memories: gingerbread, fresh and pungent applesauce, steaming plates of latkes. And Baby Jesus still maintains a slightly earthy scent. What we are all celebrating is not really so different, or so it seems to me. Hope. Miracles. The light that comes into the world and our hearts and cannot be extinguished.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gifts for Her

What do women really want? I hope lots of them want a Deco dragonfly mug, because mine is in this week's Voter (Gifts for Her)! And not getting enough love at the moment, so please, consider voting for me! Here is the difference between men and women, according to me:

What do men want? A: What other men have.
What do women want? A: What other women want.

I think that it's so easy to buy gifts for women. Make it personal, heartfelt, slightly luxurious, and at least one notch beyond what she'd buy for herself. Do the little, non-material things for a woman you are gifting- a thoughtful card with a personal note, a great setting in which to present your gift, and sometimes a story about why you thought of her when you chose that gift.

I hope all your gifts this season come with kisses and hugs and shining eyes and maybe some of those golden moments when you know that all is truly well and your heart's desire is actually all around you.