I love the winter holidays. I am not a cynic, even though I know how commercialized they are. I too don’t like that aspect, so, I ignore it. In my family, we celebrate and love Christmas. What I focus on are the people, family traditions, special food, music, storytelling and time together. Yes, gifts. But I narrow the scope to books, music, experiences, and contributions to joint gifts for the grandchildren.

The challenges are still there, and I have learned and am still learning to co-exist with them. There is first of all not enough time. I inelegantly get some cards written and mailed but several people I want to write to don’t get a card. This is embarrassing and I am sure is hurtful for my friends.

My concession is to extend my card writing period to January 6th, which is the 12th day of Christmas. Well, that’s what I am doing this year.

I like to think of myself as the person who handmakes her own cards. This may sound simple, but it’s not. It has never happened. This year my intention is to make five cards. (I know about the road to hell being paved with good intentions) Regardless, this is my plan. I have made one so far.

I have already lowered my expectations in the cookie baking department. I now make our four favorite cookies, multiple times. Not our ten favorite cookies. Multiple times, because I turn a blind eye to the cookies at Christmas and because I no longer bake all day long.

On tree decorating day – yes, we still all love and admire the tree and dedicate our ornaments to family and friends near and far. I do little of the decorating but instead, make and serve the first cookies of Christmas. (We put our tree up early.)

I accept the fact that my daughter is an expert wrapper and I concede immediately that she will wrap my gifts. How I have improved is by facing these facts and giving them to her early on, rather than Christmas Eve morning.

I LOVE reading favorite stories each year on Christmas Eve and my family seems to like it too. We gather around the tree with lights and candles, beautiful music, and delicious treats. I no longer read The Shepherd, well into the night, ( a long book that my daughter loves) but spread it over two or three evenings.

We go out for walks, play games, count our blessings, remember our loved ones, and admire the effort others put into lighting the darkness.

A special few hours on boxing day is not shopping but curling up with my new book. Fireplace going, family wandering in and out, hearing the chatter in the background. Speaking of reading we dedicate an evening to reading before Christmas. We draw names, buy a book for each other, and open them a couple of weeks before Christmas and spend the evening reading our new books together and eating chocolate along with our favorite beverage.

This is a peak through the frosty window of my holidays and I hope your favorite holidays are times you can thoroughly enjoy your family, friends, and traditions. I think we need the light and the festivities of our traditions to get through the dark cold winter seasons.

I want to acknowledge that holidays can be especially sad and challenging for many reasons:  for those who have lost a loved one, or a job, divorce, illness, alone for the first or the tenth time. This is also true and it is painful. What can we do?

It’s up to each of us, depending on our circumstances. There are no easy formulas.

It may be an opportunity to do something for someone else. Volunteer in a community center that serves food to homeless people. It may be that you need to ask for support for yourself to get through the season. We are here to help and be helped many times throughout our lives. We need each other.

Still, dark, tough times require joyful moments. May we all do the best we can to lift one another’s spirits, lend a hand and be that light for someone else, no matter our tradition.

All my best wishes, Trudy


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