Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent

New beginnings, anniversaries...another winter comes.

I love winters in Idaho. It's my sixth one and I never tire of the snow, the rain, the cold, the wind, the orange moon rising over snowy Shaffer Butte. I've wanted to live in this part of the country for a long, long time. Now, here I am.

I love this time of year. I give a lot of credit to my parents for that. They raised us to think of the Christmas season as what it's meant to be; a celebration of love, forgiveness, and new hope. A time to be with family, make and eat traditional foods, make music and sing, and enjoy celebrations with friends. And now, for me, it's also a time to remember when my husband and I began dating, at the Solstice party he gave in 2004.

Since then, he and I have worked out a blend of our family traditions. We'll throw a Solstice party/potluck/jam session, something he's done for years with his friends and family. On Christmas Eve we get together with my sister, and she and I put together our family's traditional meal. We open one or two presents, eat cookies and fudge, and sing carols.

Christmas morning Santa still comes, leaving floury footprints between fireplace and tree. The kids come over and we open presents in turn, eat oranges and chocolate, take pictures, and laugh a lot.

Since my sister adopted Jasmine, we've added a few new things to our holiday customs. One Saturday before Christmas I take Jasmine shopping for her mom's present while mom shops, then we'll meet for lunch. On another day we'll get together to make our family Christmas cookies.

I have trouble with all the hype and pressure surrounding present giving. I don't recall anyone in my immediate family ever worrying about "competing" to give the biggest or most expensive gift. Gift-giving is not a status-improver, not a contest. I prefer to make or buy gifts that seem special to me, that express something about the recipient's personality, a gift that shows thought. Of course it isn't always possible, but it's what I try for. And getting gifts that show the person put thought and time into choosing it or making it, is what means the most to me.

May your holiday be all you want it to be.

"Green is in the mistletoe, and red is in the holly,
Silver in the stars above that shine on everybody.
Gold is in the candlelight, and crimson in the embers.
White is in the winter night that everyone remembers..."

from the CD 'And Winter Came...', by Enya

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