Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas arrives...

Christmas for me arrives when I have finished plating 140 dozen cookies and figured out who is going to usher and made sure the coffee is made and all the extra chairs are in place for overflow seating.


You guessed it.
It's the annual church Christmas Concert and I'm the hospitality & cookies lady.

Isn't this the essence of the best kind of Christmas celebration?

Oh, I love these people!

It's Linda and Jackie, Dal and Barb and all the others in the choir, the orchestra,
the drama, the children's choir...

It's the old ones tottering in to watch, the little ones in their robes made of old bedsheets...

Is there anything sweeter than the angels and the children who play Mary and Joseph and the shepherds?

The shepherd's crooks lean against the wall while the children are in the bathroom before they go on stage.

And then singing in Swedish, a tradition we love to repeat year after year after year. 
I wouldn't miss it for anything. Mr. Wonderful says my face glows... 

it's so wonderful to enjoy my Scandinavian heritage with the very young and the very old and everyone in between.

And afterward, the cookies we've worked so hard on disappear at an impossible speed.

This is Christmas for me. 
Not store bought. This is the real deal and I wouldn't change it for anything.

My Christmas wish for you is joy and satisfaction in the simple pleasures and deep truths.

Merry Christmas, friends.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A different kind of Christmas...

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Is yours turning out to be the stuff of dreams?

If not, join me in a not-such-a-stereotypical holiday.

So many times we feel let down at this season.
Why not gift your loved ones with time instead of stuff?

We've already begun the Christmas treats.
Here's one...

Mr. Wonderful and our son and I headed off with the pups for a hike near home...

... through farmland and field to the shore.

We noticed the little treasures like feathers and lichen and juniper berries.
A chill wind whipped through our jackets and turned our noses pink.

We all breathed deeply of the crisp morning air
and walked in comfortable silence.

Nobody rushed. 
Not even a little bit.

What a pleasure to be away from the rest of the world.

Then at the end of the trail, a pleasant romp together...

... then a quiet tramp back home through the fields.

When we look back on this Christmas when we spent time instead of money,
I think it will be one of the most memorable.

If you're feeling stressed by the season, grab the people you love and go outside.
The gift of time is the best one you can share, 
and you'll come back feeling so connected and loved.

Merry Christmas.
God bless us every one.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Being still...

Sometimes this season gets utterly crazy. 
My studio and home are on a crash course for burnout this week.

It's so good to go to a quiet place
and simply be still for a while.

Just reminding myself (and you, too) that no matter what the schedule is,
it's essential to retreat and recharge for a few minutes every day.

Life will go on and nothing will collapse just because we took a sliver of time to regain our balance.

Monday, December 5, 2011

One square foot of miracles

It was nothing, really.

Just a thoughtless comment,
an unconsidered slam.
But it stung.

So I set out to look for soothing beauty.

I challenged myself to see how much I could find in one square foot of ordinary space.

What could I see without moving my feet from the same spot?

Sunlight slanting through the weeds,

frozen leaves in icy grasses...

dew melting into crystalline drops.

There is so much design, so much form and color in one square foot of space!

Even an ordinary wire fence is extraordinary.

It's amazing how much joy you can wring from one square foot of earth wherever you are!

What's your retreat when life knocks you down?
What soothing beauty can you find in one square foot of ordinary life?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A dream came true...

It's not every day your secret dream comes true.

But today it happened for me.

We piled in the car with very dear friends and trundled down the road to Mount Baker to cut Christmas trees from the woods.

It seemed to me as if a story book had come to life.
And I was in the middle of the story.

Was ever a sky so blue or snow so white?

Noses were bright with the chill, cocoa steamy, and the forest was silvery with sunshine on frost.

We came upon a hidden jewel of a lake in the woods...

...surrounded, it seemed, with magic.

And there it was that we found the perfect trees, and cut them with a sharp red saw, just like you would imagine.

We discovered that the rope had been left behind, and being creative and full of cocoa and laughter, pulled out our shoelaces and tied the trees down nice and secure.

Oh, yes, it was a day almost too good to be real.

A day when the forest welcomed us, and I got to live my secret wish to go into the woods and cut down a very special Christmas tree.